What are lipids?
Lipids or cholesterol are fatty substances that are part of the normal functioning of the body. Cell membranes, hormones and vitamin D are formed by your body using cholesterol.
There are two main bases of the cholesterol in your blood:
- cholesterol in the diet you eat
- cholesterol formed by your liver
High cholesterol, on its own, doesn’t usually cause any indications but upsurges your risk of serious health conditions.
What are lipoproteins?
Lipids are transported in your blood by proteins. When the two unite, they’re called lipoproteins. There are two core types of lipoproteins.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) transmits cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver. From there it’s either broken down or passed out of the body as a waste product. HDL is referred to as “good cholesterol” for this reason and higher levels are better.
Low-density lipoprotein transmits 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 blockage of the arteries. For this reason, LDL is recognized as “bad cholesterol”.
The quantity of cholesterol in the blood, together HDL and LDL, is measured with a blood test. The suggested cholesterol levels in the blood vary between those with a higher or lower risk of developing arterial disease.
Why should I lower my cholesterol?
Evidence strongly specifies that high cholesterol can upsurge the risk of:
- narrowing of the arteries
- heart attack
- transient ischaemic attack frequently known as a mini stroke
- peripheral arterial disease
This is the reason that cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, limiting the blood flow to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also upsurges the risk of a blood clot emerging somewhere in your body.
Your risk of evolving coronary heart disease also rises as your blood’s cholesterol level increases. This can cause discomfort in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity.
What causes high cholesterol?
Numerous factors can increase your chances of having heart complications or a stroke if you have high cholesterol.
- an unhealthy diet – in specific, eating high levels of saturated fat
- smoking – a chemical called acrolein, found in cigarettes, halts HDL from moving cholesterol from fatty deposits to the liver, leading to blockage of the arteries
- having diabetes or high blood pressure
- having a family history of stroke or heart ailment
There’s also an inherited state called familial hypercholesterolaemia. This can cause high cholesterol even in someone who lives a healthy lifestyle.
When should my cholesterol levels be tested?
Your practitioner may commend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been identified with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini stroke, or peripheral arterial disease.
- have a family history of initial cardiovascular disease
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related disorder
- are overweight
- have high blood pressure, diabetes or a health condition that can upsurge cholesterol levels
What should my cholesterol levels be?
It is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, constantly shortened to mmol/L.
As an overall guide, total cholesterol levels should be:
- 5 mmol/L or less for physically active adults
- 4 mmol/L or less for those at high risk
As an overall guide, LDL levels should be:
- 3 mmol/L or less for physically active adults
- 2 mmol/L or less for those at high risk
A perfect level of HDL is above 1mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can upsurge your risk of heart disease.
Your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL may also be measured. This is your total cholesterol level separated by your HDL level. Usually, this ratio should be below four, as a higher ratio upsurges your risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is only one hazard factor. The level at which specific treatment is required will depend on other risk issues, such as smoking and high blood pressure.
How can I lower my cholesterol level?
The first step in dropping your cholesterol is to consume a healthy, balanced diet. It’s important to keep your diet low in fatty food. You can switch food containing saturated fat for fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. This will also help stop high cholesterol returning.
Further lifestyle changes, such as regular workouts and giving up smoking, can also make a big difference in helping to lower your cholesterol. If these measures don’t decrease your cholesterol and you continue to have a high risk of evolving heart disease, your clinician may suggest a cholesterol-lowering medication, such as statins. Your doctor will take into attention the risk of any side effects from statins. The advantage of lowering your cholesterol must outweigh any risks.
Through the help of statins or fibrates and a healthy lifestyle, you can generally manage dyslipidemia. The key is to keep taking medicines if they’re effective at managing your numbers and you aren’t suffering any side effects. Occasionally people reach their cholesterol targets and stop taking their statins. You should be able to get dyslipidemia under control and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease if you follow your doctor’s advice.