Doctors, in many instances, have warned patients and the general public about increasing cholesterol levels and their outcomes. You may have also heard from the elders of the family how they, especially, need to keep their cholesterol levels checked. What is Cholesterol and why is it an enemy?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid. It’s vital for the normal functioning of the body. Cell membranes, hormones and vitamin D are created by your body using cholesterol. Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins. When the two combine, they’re called lipoproteins. Lipoprotein then carries cholesterol to the cells that need it. If there’s too much cholesterol for the cells to use it can build up in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries.
Why should I lower my cholesterol?
High cholesterol can increase the risk of narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack, stroke and transient ischaemic attack often known as a “mini stroke.” It also increases the risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in your body. Your risk of developing coronary heart disease also rises as your blood’s cholesterol level increases. This can cause pain in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity.
Health experts warn of increase in cholesterol related diseases. Such diseases are becoming very common and are spreading wildly. Reasons that contribute to such diseases are:
- Unhealthy diet – diet high in unsaturated fats
- High blood pressure
- Being over-weight and inactive
- Family history of stroke
- Make dietary changes by eliminating trans and unsaturated fats from your food. Try involving foods rick in omega-3 and proteins. Such diet is a source of energy and keeps one healthy. Including fibre also helps preventing cholesterol related problems.
- Exercise can improve cholesterol. Adding physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day, can help you begin to stay active and even contribute to weight loss. Carrying extra pounds is also a health hazard as it can lead to high cholesterol levels in the body.
- Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level. The benefits occur quickly. Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike, within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve and within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.
Sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol levels. If your doctor recommends medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed while continuing your lifestyle changes.