Causes of high LDL cholesterol, and ways to lower it
Cholesterol is a type of fat or lipid found in the blood. It’s manufactured by the liver and is a critical building block of cell walls, hormones, and digestive juices.
Increased levels of cholesterol lead to accumulations of it in the blood vessels and make it difficult for the blood to flow through the arteries. This results in a condition called atherosclerosis and may cause heart attacks when enough oxygen-rich blood fails to reach the heart.
A decreased blood flow to the brain due to atherosclerosis can cause a stroke. A high level of cholesterol can cause heart diseases and strokes. It leads to a high blood pressure and causes diabetes too.
Kinds of cholesterol
There are two kinds of cholesterol:
1.LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or Bad cholesterol is the one associated with increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes by causing atherosclerosis.
2. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or Good cholesterol helps in reducing the risks of heart attacks, heart diseases, and strokes.
High levels of LDL cholesterol doesn’t produce any symptoms as such. Adults are advised to get their levels tested at least once every five years. Lipid profile test or lipid panel test is the blood test associated with testing cholesterol levels.
Causes of high LDL
The most important cause for a high LDL cholesterol level in the blood is high amounts of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol in the diet. A high level of LDL is common among people who are fat or obese.
Being overweight also reduces the HDL or good cholesterol level in the blood. Lack of physical activities also lowers good cholesterol or HDL level. Your age also plays a role as far the levels of cholesterol is concerned. The levels of LDL starts increasing once you cross 20 years of age.
Genetic factors can also cause cholesterol levels to go up. If your family members have a high cholesterol level, then you’ll most likely have it as well.
A large waist circumference is another cause. A waist circumference of 40 inches or more in men and 35 inches in women can increase cholesterol levels. A diabetic person tends to have a high LDL and low HDL. Smoking reduces the amount of HDL in your blood.
How to reduce cholesterol?
Proper diet and exercise play a key role in maintaining high levels of HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL cholesterol in your blood. Being active and doing regular exercise and at the same time eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and low-fat foods will increase HDL cholesterol and is used for high LDL cholesterol treatment. In addition to this, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking will reduce cholesterol levels further.
Many medicines are also available to lower LDL levels in the blood, though most of them also have some or the other kind of side effects. Taking medicines for reducing LDL levels is advisable only for considerably high levels of cholesterol in the blood and only under a doctor’s prescription.