- What is high blood cholesterol?
- What is the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol?
- How do I know if my blood cholesterol is too high?
- How high should my cholesterol numbers be?
- Does high blood cholesterol put my health at risk?
- Is cholesterol hereditary?
- What are the causes of high cholesterol?
- Can it be prevented?
- What treatments are available?
- Are prescription cholesterol treatments available online?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is naturally present in the body, known as lipids. Cholesterol makes up pretty much all of your cell membranes and plays in important role in the production of sex and steroid hormones. There are two types of cholesterol in the body, namely HDL cholesterol (‘good’) and LDL cholesterol (‘bad’). Having too high a level of LDL in your blood is what is classed as high blood cholesterol and is dangerous, while a high level of HDL is good for you.
What makes cholesterol good or bad for you is dependent on the type of lipoproteins in your body they bond with. Cholesterol needs lipoproteins to move around your body. Some take cholesterol to your cells, where it can be used by the cells, and others take cholesterol back from the cells to the liver, where it can be excreted by the body. High density lipoproteins (HDL) take cholesterol away from cells, while low density lipoproteins (LDL) take it too your cells. If there is too much LDL for your cells to use, it can result in a build-up of LDL which can result in blockages in your arteries.
High cholesterol isn’t an illness on its own, so there aren’t usually symptoms that indicate whether your blood cholesterol is too high. Most people only realise they have a problem when their high levels of cholesterol start causing serious health problems. This is why it is important to get tested regularly to monitor the LDL numbers in your system. High cholesterol can be monitored and treated more effectively the earlier you detect it.
Doctors use the following parameters, in conjunction with other health and lifestyle factors, to determine whether your LDL numbers are too high:
- Optimal - less than 5mmol/l
- Mildly high - 5 to 6.4mmol/l
- Moderately high - 6.5 to 7.8mmol/l
- Very high - above 7.8mmol/l
High levels of LDL can result in a build-up of cholesterol in your blood and arterial walls, which could result in blockages and ultimately cause numerous health problems. This build up of cholesterol can cause a hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which makes it difficult for blood to circulate and can cause your muscles and heart to be starved of oxygen. This can result in chest pain (angina) and cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and loss of circulation in the lower body. This obstruction could also lead to potentially fatal blood clots in the brain.
It isn’t unusual for people to be genetically prone to develop high blood cholesterol; this condition is known as familial hypercholesterolemia. Roughly one in 500 people have high levels of LDL cholesterol in their blood due to a lack of lipoproteins that transport cholesterol away from the blood. Most people with this condition have high cholesterol from birth.
If you aren’t genetically predisposed to have higher than usual blood cholesterol, there are still other factors that can contribute. One of the main factors is a diet high in fatty foods, a lack of physical activity, obesity as well as age. Kidney and liver disease as well as diabetes, blood pressure and an underactive thyroid gland also tend to raise LDL levels in the blood.
The best way to prevent high blood cholesterol is to eat a healthy diet and to remain active. Exercise stimulates the amount of lipoproteins that take cholesterol away from the blood, while eating healthily can limit the amount of lipoproteins that increase cholesterol in your blood. This however, isn’t always effective, especially if the reason for the high LDL numbers in your blood is hereditary. In these cases a treatment to help manage your condition more effectively is recommended.
Making lifestyle changes and becoming more active is usually the first treatment method recommended if high cholesterol wasn’t passed on genetically. If, due to an existing condition or other factors, you are unable to reduce the dangerous cholesterol in your bloodstream, a doctor will usually recommend treatments known as statins – such as Simvastatin – which prevent the liver from producing ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Alternatively, aspirin and niacin may also be recommended. Aspirin works to prevent blood clotting, while niacin is a B vitamin that lowers dangerous cholesterol in the system and increases the lipoproteins that remove cholesterol. Ezetimibe is recommended to people who can’t take statins or to use in conjunction with statins to lower their LDL levels.
Prescription treatments like Crestor, Lescol, Rosuvastatin, Simvastatin are just some of the medications that are available to order from HealthExpress if your doctor has recommended cholesterol treatment. You can start your free and confidential consultation today. After completing it, your consultation will be checked by one of our doctors who will make a recommendation based on their diagnosis.