Hypercholesterolemia: what is it, causes, diet
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. The risk of their occurrence increases significantly in the presence of hypercholesterolemia.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is one of the representatives of fats (lipids) in the blood. Cholesterol and triglycerides (another lipid) are important components of cell structure, they are also used for the synthesis of hormones and energy production. To some extent, the cholesterol level in blood depends on what a person eats, but the main role is played by its synthesis in the liver. There are two types of cholesterol:
- The «good» kind is called high-density lipoproteins (HDL). They carry cholesterol to the liver, protecting against the development of atherosclerosis.
- The «bad» kind is called low density lipoproteins (LDL). They contribute to heart disease and blood vessels.
The ratio levels of HDL and LDL affect the risk of atherosclerosis. LDL levels can be reduced by eating a healthy diet low in fat and, if necessary, using medication. HDL levels can be improved by exercise and perhaps the use of small quantities of alcohol.
Hypercholesterolemia – what is it?
Hypercholesterolemia is elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol levels slowly rise with age. Women usually have higher HDL levels compared to men. To determine the levels of all types of cholesterol can be used a blood sample taken from a person on an empty stomach. Ideally, total cholesterol should be below 5 mmol/L. in addition to this measure, doctors in the evaluation of lipid profile take note of:
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- The ratio between good and bad cholesterol.
- The presence of other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as Smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure. These factors increase the body’s sensitivity to the harmful effects of cholesterol.
Such a situation is possible that people with high total cholesterol, still has a relatively low cardiovascular risk because he has no other risk factors or no family history of coronary heart disease. Every patient with an established diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases such as angina or myocardial infarction, must try to reduce total cholesterol below 4 mmol/l or LDL cholesterol below 2 mmol/L.
What could be the causes of hypercholesterolemia?
The level of cholesterol can be affected by genetic factors and environmental factors. If the inherited cholesterol levels are very high, the disease is called «family history (hereditary) hypercholesterolemia». The levels of cholesterol also affects the region of living – the inhabitants of the Nordic countries are higher than those in southern Europe, and much higher than Asians. It is also well known that its blood levels are greatly affected by diet. High cholesterol can also be found in the following diseases:
- Slow metabolism in diseases of the thyroid gland.
- When kidney disease.
- In poorly controlled diabetes.
- The abuse of alcohol.
- If overweight or obesity (rather, it is the most common cause of hypercholesterolemia).
What are the symptoms of hypercholesterolemia?
People can not feel the presence of elevated cholesterol as he feels a headache. But in combination with other risk factors hypercholesterolemia can lead to atherosclerosis and symptoms of cardiovascular diseases. Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of cholesterol and fats in the artery walls, forming plaque. The lumen of arteries is narrowed, their elasticity decreases, which impairs blood flow through them.
These atherosclerotic plaques can rupture, leading to thrombus formation around this place. If it stops the blood supply to some part of the body may be dying off (necrosis) of tissues in this region. The severity of symptoms of cardiovascular disease depends on the degree of narrowing of the arteries, the likelihood of rupture of atherosclerotic plaque and organ perfused by this artery.
- If the narrowed artery, supplying blood to the leg, this can cause pain in it when walking or running (alternating lameness). If a blood clot suddenly blocks a large artery of the leg may even need amputation.
- If the affected artery in the brain, it may be a stroke. The development of stroke can also occur in atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries.
- Narrowed coronary arteries in the heart lead to the development of angina and myocardial infarction. These diseases provoke heart failure.
Very often in patients with high cholesterol atherosclerotic plaque are striking in several arteries, including:
- renal artery;
- mesenteric (intestinal) artery.
Prevention of hypercholesterolemia
Every person can take certain steps to maintain normal cholesterol levels in the blood. This is facilitated by:
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- Rational and healthy diet low in saturated fats.
- Maintaining a healthy weight through diet modification and increasing physical activity.
- Regular exercise can lower LDL and raise HDL.
- Quitting Smoking.
The net benefit of these actions cannot be overstated as they not only reduce cholesterol, but also prevent the development of many diseases.
Treatment of hypercholesterolemia
Reduce cholesterol levels can be achieved in two ways – by lifestyle modification and medication. Necessary in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia changes in lifestyle similar to preventive actions aimed at maintaining normal levels of cholesterol in the blood. If these measures fails to reduce cholesterol levels to normal values, the doctor may prescribe certain medication.
- Statins – these drugs effectively lower LDL levels, so they were most commonly prescribed by doctors for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. This is a rather safe drug, the side effects of their use are very rare.
- Ezetimibe is a drug that inhibits cholesterol absorption in the intestine. It is not as effective as statins, but also less likely to cause side effects.
- Less commonly used injectable drugs, which, when familial hypercholesterolemia is prescribed for patients who can not tolerate statins and Ezetimib.
How to reduce cholesterol folk remedies?
It is well known that certain folk remedies can reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. These include:
- Oats – it contains beta-glucan absorbs LDL.
- Red wine – scientists have confirmed that eating this product in moderation helps to reduce LDL.
- Salmon and fatty fish – they contained omega-3 fatty acids may raise levels of beneficial HDL, preventing heart disease, dementia and many other diseases.
- Tea – protects not only from cancer but also from increased levels of LDL.
- Chocolate increases the levels of HDL.
- Garlic is included in the list of foods that reduce cholesterol levels. It also prevents blood clots, reduces blood pressure and struggling with infectious diseases.
- Olive oil – contains large amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids that reduce LDL levels.