HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Cholesterol

By Angela Young

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that naturally occurs in the human body. Cholesterol is a part of the cell membranes and help with proper cell function. Cholesterol in the blood stream is also normal, but too much cholesterol poses health problems. Dietary cholesterol comes from primarily from animal proteins and animal by products such as dairy.

There are two types of cholesterol. There is LDL, the good cholesterol, and the HDL, the bad cholesterol. The two types of cholesterol create the total cholesterol count in the human body. When a person has high cholesterol they are more likely to develop heart disease and other issues that cause poor health.

High cholesterol will build up in the blood stream, as the liver can only process so much cholesterol at a time and the average American diet is high in cholesterol. When the blood vessels become blocked, heart attacks occur.

Cholesterol Symptoms

The problem with high cholesterol is that most of the time symptoms do not exist. Many times the first symptom someone has of high cholesterol is a heart attack or a stroke. While there are not symptoms of high cholesterol there are risks that exist which predispose someone to the likelihood that they have high cholesterol. The risk factors of high cholesterol include a diet that includes large amounts of processed and fatty foods, large intake of dairy products, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise.

It is likely that a person has high cholesterol if they have symptoms of heart disease. Symptoms of heart disease include shortness of breath, sweating, weakness, heart palpitations and fast heart rate. Cholesterol can cause heart disease and it can make existing tendencies towards heart disease worse.

Cholesterol Causes

Science shows a direct link between high fat diets and an increase in the amount of LDL cholesterol levels. Diets that include large amounts of fatty animal proteins such as bacon and dairy products lead to high levels of cholesterol in most people. Lack of exercise is also a factor in developing high cholesterol. Exercise helps lower LDL levels and raises levels of HDL, plus exercise can help with weight loss and being overweight is a factor, which contributes to high cholesterol.

When it comes to other contributing factors such as family history of heart disease, it is important to know who in the family suffered from heart disease. If a patient has a family history of heart disease they are far more likely to develop the condition themselves and high cholesterol is a contributing factor to heart disease. In addition to family history, women who have gone through menopause and/or are over the age of 55 are likely to have higher LDL levels, as are men over the age of 45.

Cholesterol Diagnosis

Blood tests are the most accurate way to test for high cholesterol. Lipoprotein is the name of the blood test physicians use to test for high cholesterol. The test requires people to do a 12-hour fast prior to the blood test. The laboratory does a test of the complete lipid panel to determine the amount of cholesterol found in the blood stream.

Cholesterol Treatment

Treatment for high cholesterol involves medication and lifestyle changes. Many doctors recommend that patients try making the lifestyle changes to lower cholesterol prior to prescribing cholesterol-lowering medications.

Losing weight, starting an exercise program and avoiding foods that are high in fat can all help to lower the LDL levels that are part of high cholesterol issues. Avoiding food that is high in saturated fat is key to long-term treatment of high cholesterol.

The most popular medications on the market are statin drugs. Statin drugs show promising results in studies looking at the effectiveness of medications on lowering high cholesterol and preventing heart attacks and strokes.


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