High cholesterol can mean a higher risk of heart disease. Controlling your cholesterol levels lowers that risk and gives you an upper hand over potential heart-related complications. Read on to learn how to reduce your bad cholesterol levels in your body and protect your heart from harm.
Cholesterol is an essential fat required by the cells in your body. Not all cholesterol is bad.
Good vs. Bad Cholesterol
The ‘good’ high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol actually helps to manage and control the levels of the ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) causes fatty build-up in the arteries and increases the risk of stroke, arterial blockages and heart disease. HDL on the other hand scavenges the blood vessels and carries away LDL from the arteries to the liver. The liver breaks down the LDL, and it is passed out of the body as waste.
Managing your cholesterol levels involves increasing your regular intake of HDL and lowering your everyday consumption of LDL.
Bad cholesterol is a silent killer as it goes undetected until serious complications arise. The only way to keep track of your blood cholesterol levels is to get regular blood tests done, on an annual or semi-annual basis.
Complications of high cholesterol
- Atherosclerosis, deposition of cholesterol and other deposits on your arterial walls.
- Frequent chest pain or angina caused by reduced blood flow to the heart
- Pain while walking due to blockage in the artery supplying blood to your veins.
- Heart attack or stroke
Causes & Risk Factors
Here are some factors that determine your cholesterol levels and also indicate your chances of having high cholesterol:
- History of early heart disease in your family
- An immediate family member with high cholesterol levels
- Inactive or lazy lifestyle
- If you are overweight, with a BMI of 30 or more
- If you have Type 2 diabetes
- If you are a smoker
- If you have South Asian ancestry
- If you eat a diet rich in red meat, full-fat dairy products and saturated vegetable fats.
Testing Your Cholesterol Levels
A high cholesterol level can lead to various heart complications; therefore it becomes important to check your cholesterol levels via lipid profile tests. It is advisable to get regular tests done, once you cross 40.
The following guidelines will help you to properly evaluate the results of your lipid profile blood tests:
Total Cholesterol – should be less than 200 mg/dL
LDL –should be less than 100 mg/dL
For men- should be over 40 mg/dL
For women-should be over 60 mg/dL
*Triglycerides- should be less than 150 mg/dl
* A type of fat used by the body to store energy, high levels can cause heart disease.