Cholesterol in blood: causes, symptoms, how to treat?

Cholesterol is a natural substance found in the fats (lipids) in the blood. That in itself is a substance the body needs for normal performance of its functions. However, high cholesterol can lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

If a person has elevated blood cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) in the arteries can occur fatty deposits, called atherosclerotic plaques. These deposits can block the lumen of the vessels, disrupting blood flow to the organs and tissues. If you restrict or stop the flow of blood in the heart may develop myocardial infarction. If you restrict or stop the flow of blood to the brain there is the risk of stroke.

High cholesterol is often the result of an improper diet and lifestyle, although in rare cases, hypercholesterolemia can be inherited from parents. In most cases, to get rid of high cholesterol can help healthy eating, regular exercise and taking certain medicines. Cholesterol in the blood connected to proteins, creating different types of lipoproteins:

  • Low density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol throughout the body. Cholesterol from LDL accumulates in artery walls, making them rigid and narrowing the lumen. They are considered the harmful form of cholesterol.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL) collect excess cholesterol and transport it to the liver. They are considered the beneficial form of cholesterol.

Why is increased cholesterol in the blood?

Increase cholesterol can the following reasons:

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  • Poor nutrition. The high content of saturated fats and TRANS-fats in food (e.g. food of animal origin) and food rich in cholesterol (red meat, fatty dairy products) can cause hypercholesterolemia.
  • Obesity.
  • A large waist circumference. The risk of increased cholesterol is elevated in men with waist circumference 102cm and over women – 89 cm and more.
  • The lack of exercise.
  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes.

The symptoms and signs of increased cholesterol

A person with high cholesterol any symptoms develop only because of the development of complications of atherosclerosis. These include angina, myocardial infarction, acute violation of cerebral circulation. The only way to detect high cholesterol before their appearance is to do a blood test.
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When and to what doctor to address?

To determine cholesterol, is generally recommended every 5 years after age 20. Sometimes your doctor may order more frequent tests for blood lipids (if the patient has a family history, improve cholesterol, heart disease or other risk factors such as Smoking, diabetes or high blood pressure). Problems, high cholesterol, usually family doctors, internists and cardiologists.

Complications

With high cholesterol may develop atherosclerosis – a dangerous accumulation of fatty deposits in the arterial wall. Atherosclerotic plaques can disrupt blood flow to organs and tissues that leads to the development of:

  • heart disease (angina, myocardial infarction);
  • violations of cerebral circulation (discirculatory encephalopathy, stroke).

Detection of elevated cholesterol

To detect high levels of cholesterol used blood test called a «lipid profile». For a more accurate measurement can not eat or drink anything for 9 – 12 hours before sampling of blood. The laboratory defines the following indicators:

  • total cholesterol;
  • LDL cholesterol;
  • HDL cholesterol;
  • triglycerides.

To interpret the results of lipid profile can only physician, taking into account the gender of the patient and the presence of cardiovascular risk factors. Children are recommended a single measurement of cholesterol in age from 9 to 11 years and the other between 17 and 21 years. If the child has a family history of early cardiovascular disease, he is suffering obesity or diabetes, your doctor may recommend earlier and more frequent testing.

How to treat high cholesterol?

The lifestyle changes

For the treatment of elevated cholesterol doctors first recommend patients to change (modify) their way of life. To effectively deal with this problem, you need to reduce weight, eat healthy foods and increase physical activity. Nature and dietary habits directly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood. Therefore, you should:

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  • Consume healthy fats. Saturated fats and TRANS fats raise total cholesterol and LDL. The most common sources of saturated fat in the diet are red meat and fatty dairy products. Good for your health monounsaturated fats contained in olive oil. Other sources of healthy fats are avocados, almonds and walnuts.
  • To avoid TRANS fats. TRANS fats, often found in purchased products, greatly affect cholesterol levels, raising LDL and lowering HDL.
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  • To limit the content of cholesterol in the diet. Food that contains it in large quantities, include organ meats, egg yolks and dairy products. It is important to remember that you can not eat more than 7 eggs a week.
  • Eat whole grain products.
  • There are a lot of fruits and vegetables rich in dietary fiber, which helps lower cholesterol.
  • Eat fish which contains less fat and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that promotes heart health.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation. Although it is believed that the use of alcohol can increase HDL levels. However, this benefit is not enough to recommend to do it with the aim of reducing cardiovascular risk.

It is important to remember that drinking alcohol in large quantities is impossible.

Many people wonder if drinking coffee to lower cholesterol. Although this drink does not contain cholesterol, it affects its synthesis and metabolism in the body. Scientists have proven that drinking coffee may slightly raise cholesterol levels. However, on the other hand, it was also proved that this drink is used in moderation, can reduce the risk of developing heart failure.
To improve the performance of the lipoproteins can also regular exercise for 30 – 60 minutes daily. Don’t have to do all this time, you can divide it into several periods.

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If the patient is overweight will adhere to healthy diet and exercise, the weight will gradually decrease, which will benefit not only his health and state of health, but also reduce cholesterol in the blood. If a person smokes, he should quit this bad habit. Smoking damages blood vessels and accelerates the formation of atherosclerotic plaques inside the arteries.

Medication

If lifestyle changes are unable to reduce levels of cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe a medication. The choice of what to treat cholesterol increase depends on individual risk factors, patient’s age, his state of health and possible side effects. Most often used:

  • Statins block the enzyme needed for hepatic synthesis of cholesterol. This is the most common class of drugs for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Representatives of this group are Atorvastatin, Lovastatin, Pitavastatin, Rosuvastatin and Simvastatin.
  • Drugs that bind bile acids. Cholesterol is used by the liver for synthesis of bile acids needed for digestion. Linking causes the liver to use excess cholesterol to develop new. Drugs are Cholestyramine, Colestipol and Colesevelam.
  • Inhibitors of cholesterol absorption. Cholesterol from food is absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine. The drug Ezetimib limits its absorption, it can be used in combination with statins.
  • Inject drugs. Aliakum and Molecular can be used in people who suffer from inherited hypercholesterolemia, but do not tolerate statins or other drugs to lower cholesterol.

It is important to remember that taking any of these drugs should be only after a doctor’s prescription and only when interventions on lifestyle change have not yielded positive results.