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Know what the risks of high cholesterol are

What are the risks of high cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in all cells of the body and is essential for the production of hormones, vitamin D, and the digestion of food. However, when blood cholesterol levels rise above normal values, a number of health problems can arise. In this article, we will explore in detail the risks of high cholesterol, and why it is crucial to proactively address this issue to maintain good cardiovascular health .

What is Cholesterol and How is it Measured?

Cholesterol is classified into two main types: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is commonly known as "bad cholesterol" because it can build up in the arteries and form plaques, increasing the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, HDL is known as "good cholesterol" because it helps remove excess cholesterol from the blood.

Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood. A cholesterol report will typically include levels of LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol. Normal values ​​vary depending on factors such as the individual's age, sex, and general health. However, an LDL level above 100 mg/dL is generally considered elevated, and an HDL level below 40 mg/dL is also considered concerning.

Cardiovascular Risks Associated with High Cholesterol

The main risk associated with high cholesterol is the development of cardiovascular diseases. When LDL builds up on artery walls, it can form plaques that narrow the arteries and make blood flow difficult. This can lead to serious conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Cholesterol plaques can break down, triggering the formation of blood clots that block blood flow. If a clot blocks a coronary artery, it can cause a heart attack. Likewise, if it blocks a brain artery, it can cause a stroke.

Risk Factors and Causes of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol may be the result of genetic factors, but it is also closely related to lifestyle. A diet high in saturated and trans fats, lack of regular exercise, and smoking can contribute to increased cholesterol levels. Additionally, medical conditions such as diabetes and hypothyroidism can also play a role in high cholesterol.

Genetics plays a crucial role in predisposition to high cholesterol. If there is a family history of high cholesterol levels, a person may have a higher chance of developing this problem, even if they adopt healthy lifestyle habits.

Impact of High Cholesterol on Heart Health

The heart is the engine of the human body, and its health is essential for the general functioning of the body. The impact of high cholesterol on heart health is significant. Clogged arteries and reduced blood flow can increase blood pressure and put an extra burden on the heart. Over time, this can weaken the heart muscle and increase the risk of heart failure.

Additionally, reduced oxygen supply to the heart due to blocked arteries can lead to angina, a condition characterized by chest pain and discomfort. Angina is a warning sign that the heart is not receiving enough oxygen and may precede a heart attack.

Conditions Related to High Cholesterol

High cholesterol not only increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, but it may also be linked to other health conditions. Hypercholesterolemia, a medical term for persistent high cholesterol, can contribute to the development of liver diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Additionally, some studies suggest a connection between high cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease. Although the exact relationship is still unclear, it is thought that plaque buildup in the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain could play a role in the progression of the disease.

Strategies to Reduce High Cholesterol

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to reduce cholesterol levels and mitigate the associated risks. Here are some key strategies:

Healthy Diet: Adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts can help lower cholesterol. Limiting your intake of saturated and trans fats is essential, as these fats can increase LDL levels.

Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity not only helps maintain a healthy weight, but also helps increase levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol. Aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, or swimming, can be especially beneficial.

Quit Smoking: Smoking not only increases LDL levels, but also decreases HDL levels. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve cardiovascular health.

Prescription Medications: In some cases, lifestyle changes are not enough, and medications may be prescribed to lower cholesterol levels. These may include statins, fibrates, or cholesterol resins.

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Importance of Regular Monitoring

The key to addressing high cholesterol effectively is regular monitoring. Cholesterol testing should be done routinely, especially if there is a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease. Constant monitoring makes it possible to detect changes in cholesterol levels and take preventive measures before they become serious health problems.

A Comprehensive Approach to Cardiovascular Health

Awareness about high cholesterol and its implications for cardiovascular health is essential. By understanding the risks and taking preventive measures, each individual can work toward a healthier heart and a fuller life. Heart health depends not only on genes, but also on the daily choices we make to care for our body and overall well-being.

Remember that prevention is better than cure

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