Find out what high cholesterol really does to your body, and what that means for your future health.
Top 10 Questions About High Cholesterol, Answered
Cholesterol may be a by-product of fat in your blood stream. There are 2 forms of cholesterol; high density and low density. High density conjugated protein is thought nearly as good sterol, as a result of it’s healthy for the body. However, low density cholesterol will produce several issues in our vascular system.
High cholesterol level is one in all the foremost common reasons of heart attacks and you need to management your diet to keep up a healthy level of cholesterol in your body. the subsequent are a number of the symptoms the body shows once sterol levels are too high. If you notice any of them, choose an entire medical and consult a doctor for locating the cause and take medication if needed.
Take a glance at a number of the symptoms of high cholesterol.
A simple blood test at a routine medical visit can tell whether you — like 32 percent of Americans — have high cholesterol.
You may be diagnosed with borderline-high or high cholesterol if your blood test results show:
Total cholesterol higher than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol higher than 100 mg/dL
Triglycerides levels over 150 mg/dL
HDL (“good”) cholesterol less than 60 mg/dL
But what do these numbers really mean for your health?
While having high cholesterol isn’t something you’ll notice day-to-day, it does mean you’re at risk for, or may already have, heart disease — the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States.
Want to know more? Here are answers to 10 frequently asked questions about high cholesterol:
1. What Does High Cholesterol Do to the Body?
Having high cholesterol can lead to the stiffening and narrowing of the arteries, as well as reduced or blocked blood flow through them because of a buildup of plaque — a combination of cholesterol, fats, your cells’ waste products, calcium, and fibrin (which causes blood clotting), explains the American Heart Association (AHA). That’s why cholesterol matters: Lack of sufficient blood flow to your brain or heart can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
2. Whom Does High Cholesterol Affect?
High cholesterol can affect anyone at any age. About 73 million adults in the United States have high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But it can also be a problem for children when high cholesterol runs in the family.
3. Can High Cholesterol Be Genetic?
Yes. High cholesterol is genetic for about 1 in 200 people in the United States who live with a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).
Unfortunately, 90 percent of people who have FH don’t know it, according to the FH Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in Pasadena, California. Screening for high cholesterol is the only way to identify people who have FH. Because of this, all children should have a cholesterol screening test once between ages 9 and 11, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics.
If your LDL cholesterol level is above 100, it’s considered high. But if it’s higher than 190, you may have inherited FH, according to leading heart groups such as the AHA, the American College of Cardiology, and the National Lipid Association. If a parent has familial hypercholesterolemia, you have a 50 percent likelihood of having it, too. Finding out if you have it — and getting treated if you do — are vital, because having FH means you have a 20-times higher risk of heart attack or stroke than people who don’t have inherited high cholesterol.
4. Can High Cholesterol Make You Tired?
No, high cholesterol doesn’t usually cause fatigue. But it can lead to heart diseases, like coronary microvascular disease, that do. In this heart condition, excess LDL cholesterol builds up as plaque in the small arteries of your heart, narrowing and stiffening them. This reduces blood flow, which can make you feel tired or short of breath, as well as cause chest pain, notes the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
If you’re taking a statin medication to treat your high cholesterol, possible side effects include symptoms that come with fatigue, like memory loss, forgetfulness, and confusion, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Mayo Clinic describes this as mental fuzziness. Be sure to discuss any similar symptoms with your doctor.
5. Can High Cholesterol Cause a Stroke?
Yes, if you have high cholesterol, you’re at risk for stroke due to the excess cholesterol circulating in your blood, according to the AHA.
LDL cholesterol builds up in your arteries, where it slows or blocks the flow of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to your body, including your brain. As arteries narrow and stiffen, blood clots may form and cause a stroke from a blockage in the brain.
About 795,000 Americans have a stroke each year, and 130,000 of these are fatal, making stroke the fifth leading cause of death, according to the American Stroke Association. Stroke is also one of the main causes of disability in the United States, but it’s preventable; keeping your cholesterol levels down is one way to cut your risk.
6. Will High Cholesterol Make You Feel Bad?
No. For most people, high cholesterol has no symptoms at all, according to the AHA. But when it causes plaque buildup in larger arteries in your heart, coronary artery disease results, along with angina, chest pain, arrhythmia (an irregular heart beat), and shortness of breath that can leave you short on energy, notes the NHLBI.
Coronary artery disease, also called coronary heart disease, is the most common heart disease, but many people have no symptoms at all until they suffer a heart attack, according to the CDC. For them, a heart attack was the first sign that they’d been living with high cholesterol.
The AHA advises having your cholesterol checked every four to six years starting at age 20 (or more frequently if you’re at risk). If your numbers are too high, you can take steps to lower your risk for both heart disease and stroke. Eat a diet low in saturated and trans fats but rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; stay physically active; and take medications as instructed if your doctor prescribes them.
7. Will High Cholesterol Cause Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
High cholesterol alone is not thought to cause erectile dysfunction, but plaque-clogged arteries can, because blood flow is essential to an erection, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
“High cholesterol is atherogenic [causes atherosclerosis] and can cause erectile dysfunction on that basis,” says Seth J. Baum, MD, president of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology and director of women’s preventive cardiology at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital in Florida. “When we see patients with ED, we have to consider not only cholesterol disorders, but also that other parts of the body might be afflicted with atherosclerotic plaque. The heart, lower extremities, and brain are the areas we typically examine to look for such disease.”
8. Can High Cholesterol Cause Headaches or Dizziness?
No, says Baum. “High cholesterol doesn’t cause these symptoms. Sometimes, rarely, the medications we use to treat high cholesterol can cause such side effects,” he says. For example, statins used to lower cholesterol can cause headaches as a side effect in some people. Check with your doctor if you’re having headaches or dizziness to find out if your symptom is related to drug side effects, or points to another health condition that may need treatment.
9. When Should High Cholesterol Be Treated With Medication?
If you’ve had a heart attack or been diagnosed with inherited high cholesterol, you’ll probably need to try a cholesterol-lowering medication or medications, in addition to being careful with your diet and staying active.
“Almost all people who’ve had a heart attack should be on a statin,” recommends Arthur Agatston, MD, medical director of wellness and prevention for Baptist Health South Florida, and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami.
In addition to statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs include bile-acid sequestrants and cholesterol absorption inhibitors. If these aren’t effective for you, injectable biologics are also available: Praluent (alirocumab) and Repatha (evolocumab).
If you found out your cholesterol was high after a routine checkup, discuss your test results with your healthcare provider. If the doctor recommends it, give a healthy diet and an active lifestyle a try first. If your cholesterol levels remain high, you may need a heart scan to look for plaque buildup in your arteries, and your doctor may recommend cholesterol-lowering drugs to lower your heart disease and stroke risk.
10. Is High Cholesterol Always Bad?
Not all cholesterol is bad. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol — optimally 60 mg/dL or higher — may protect your heart from disease, heart attack, and stroke, according to the AHA.
But high total cholesterol, and high LDL cholesterol levels in particular, do put you at risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The higher your LDL cholesterol, the higher your risk, notes the FH Foundation.