High Cholesterol Symptoms | Knowing the Effects of Elevated Cholesterol Levels

What will you feel when you have high cholesterol levels in your body? What are the signs that you will expect to see?

High Cholesterol SymptomsThese are common questions that people tend to ask when they're concerned with their cholesterol levels. Unlike other conditions however, having high cholesterol levels in your body may not have any observable symptoms. Oftentimes you will feel fine, even with elevated cholesterol levels.

Symptoms of high cholesterol in men may not be visible, as well as symptoms of high cholesterol in women. Most symptoms that become apparent are those that are manifested by different disease conditions that develop due to prolonged elevation of cholesterol levels in your blood.

These include conditions like stroke, myocardial infarction or heart attack, transient ischemic attack, hypertension, etc.

Cholesterol In Your Eyes?

There are times however, that elevated cholesterol levels may affect and be apparent in your eyes.

One is Xanthelasma, is characterized by raised yellow growth in the eyelids which is painless. Another is the Hollenhorst plaque which may be observed by your doctor during a dilated pupil examination.

For more on these warning signs, you might want to see this related article: High Cholesterol Symptoms Eyes

However, the only definite way to accurately measure your cholesterol level is by having a cholesterol test. This test will determine the levels of your LDL or bad cholesterol, HDL or good cholesterol, triglycerides, as well as total cholesterol levels in your blood.

In taking a cholesterol test however, you need to fast or avoid food consumption for 9-12 hours prior the test. Intake of food within the duration of the specified time before the test will affect your LDL cholesterol level and can alter the test results.

The commonly accepted ranges for your cholesterol levels are thought to be:

  • LDL cholesterol level should be between 70 – 130 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol level should be over 40 mg/dL
  • Total cholesterol level should be under 200 mg/dl

However, many now believe these cut-offs to be arbitrary and not accurate predictors of any problem with artery plaque build-up. More research now indicates it's the ratio between the different types of cholesterol levels … i.e., is your cholesterol in balance? … that's the most accurate indicator of your cholesterol health profile.

It is also advised that adults aged 20 years and above should have a cholesterol test or lipid profile at least once every five years. However, people with diseases associated with high cholesterol or are known to have high levels of cholesterol may need to have more frequent checking of their cholesterol levels.

Women have lesser risks of getting elevated levels of cholesterol because estrogen helps regulate LDL protein levels, by increasing HDL levels in the blood. However, although women have low LDL levels, they also tend to have high triglyceride levels. This is another form of fat, which can also cause coronary diseases. Triglyceride levels are also checked by your doctor when you have a cholesterol test.

How does cholesterol develop into a disease?

Both HDL and LDL transport cholesterol through the blood stream for the use of different metabolic activities. However, LDL cholesterol can be deposited in the arterial walls, which will later develop into a plaque once acted upon by a macrophage. The development of arterial plaque or atherosclerosis can narrow the arterial blood passageway, which can result in an increase in blood pressure as the heart now has to "try harder" to push blood through these narrow passages.

The increased heart load can predispose the heart to other cardiac diseases. Aside from that, the plaque formed along the arterial wall can chip off and the chipped portion can go with the blood flow. If it passes along small blood vessels, like the cerebral or coronary arteries, it can lodge itself in it and cause blockage of blood flow going to those areas.

Blockage of blood flow going to these areas will cause the tissues to die. As a result, this can lead to the development of stroke, if the occluded artery is a cerebral artery supplying blood supply and oxygen to the brain. On the other hand, myocardial infarction or heart attack can occur if the coronary arteries are the one involved. Both conditions are life threatening, especially if medical interventions are not administered immediately.

In order to avoid developing diseases caused by having high levels of cholesterol in the body, you'll want to consider these…

4 Options to Manage Your Cholesterol Levels

1. Exercise: This is the most common and the repetitively mentioned management for lowering your cholesterol levels. Regular exercise will require your body to burn more energy, which can be derived from glucose, proteins and fats.

Once glucose is in short supply, your body will then turn fat into an energy source. Your body will produce more high density lipoproteins or your HDL, which will collect the cholesterol deposited along the arteries by your low density lipoprotein or LDL.

2. Lifestyle changes: Smoking is known to increase the risk of developing cardiac problems such as heart attack. Studies show that cessation of smoking can significantly reduce that risk for the years to come.

Alcohol intake is another issue that you need to look into when modifying lifestyle changes. Moderate or intake in small amount can help reduce the harmful effects of LDL cholesterol and help boost HDL cholesterol. However, too much alcohol intake can elevate your blood pressure as well as damage the liver.

3. Food intake: The food you eat plays a greater role in affecting your cholesterol levels compared to being genetically predisposed to having high cholesterol. You need to watch what you eat and know what they contain.

However, modifying your food intake does not mean that you have to avoid cholesterol completely. Remember, your body needs cholesterol for healthy metabolic functions. An important note to keep in mind is this: "Low-fat foods", that contain little or no cholesterol at all, can still increase your risk for cholesterol build up in your arteries. You see, it's not about if the food contains fat or cholesterol … the real issue is does the food cause fat or cholesterol to form in your bloodstream.

4. Prescription medication?: If all else fails in managing your cholesterol levels, your physician may prescribe you with drugs that can lower cholesterol. However, it is very important that you know what you're taking. There are drugs which lower cholesterol levels, but they come with a long list of serious side effects and might even increase the risk of other cardiac problems.

References:
> Skin growths – fatty; Xanthelasma
> "How does estrogen protect against heart disease?", Craig Weber, M.D. Updated August 11, 2008


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