Like how it has always been portrayed to be, cholesterol really plays a vital role in one’s body. As a matter of fact, the amount of cholesterol can actually imply a lot about a human’s future heart health. Apparently, the higher the cholesterol level is, the higher the chances are for a person to acquire heart disease. Hence, prevention and treatment are necessary.
Knowing Your Cholesterol Level
Cholesterols are classified into two main types. The first one is Low-density Lipoproteins (LDL) which is known to be the “bad” cholesterol. The second one is called High-density Lipoproteins (HDL) which, on the other hand, is referred to as “good cholesterol”. The levels of LDL and HDL can be determined through a simple blood test at your regular preventive care visit.
Nowadays, everyone is hooked with fast food, junk food, and all the unhealthy kinds of food there is. With this factor alongside family history, it is no surprise how a lot of people have high cholesterol levels. In fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDS)’s data show that in United States alone, about 74 million adults have high cholesterol and among them, the number of people resorting to the medication phase does not even go beyond half.
You see, simply ignoring your body’s cholesterol level, thereby mismanaging it, can bring serious risks to health. It never is something to be taken for granted. To guide you further, below are some facts about cholesterol you might want to know:
- High cholesterol could be a family affair. Although a lot of health organizations advise proper diet and exercise to get a better control of your cholesterol level, sometimes high cholesterol is inevitable because it simply is in your genes. Stephen Kopecky, MD, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota speaks about cholesterol levels in one’s blood. “Seventy-five percent of cholesterol is due to genes, and about 25 per cent is due to diet,” says Dr. Kopecky. While your body normally gets rid of your excess cholesterol when you eat foods that contain cholesterol like dairy, meat, and fish, how much cholesterol you can cut down depends on your genes. For instance, people with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) are not born to effective lose their cholesterol excess. More often than not, people with FH are related to someone with high cholesterol or someone that suffered from heart attacks at an age of 50 or younger.
- One out of every three adults has high cholesterol. According to the CDC, people over 20 years old are advised to have their cholesterol levels checked every five years. And since a body’s cholesterol levels can be affected by diet and stress for instance, to have a more accurate result, Dr. Kopecky advises taking two separate tests a week apart.
- Your child’s young age does not exempt him from having high cholesterol. Contrary to the common misconception, high cholesterol does not only have adults as its targets. Apparently, even children can have it. In line with this, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cholesterol screening for all kids from 9 to 11 years old. Selective screening is also recommended for kids starting at 2 years old especially kids who are obese or kids who have a family history of heart attacks and high cholesterol. “Even if people know their cholesterol is high and they’ve talked about it with their siblings, doctors do not always tell them that their kids need to get checked,” says Marta Gulati, MD, chief of cardiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. “They should ask their doctor about this, especially if they have a family history of premature heart disease,” she added.
- The cholesterol levels of women fluctuate over their lifespan. Study shows that men tend to suffer from high cholesterol than women. However, the latter may still go through a roller coaster ride throughout their lives. Pregnant women tend to experience a surge in their cholesterol level as this is thought to help babies’ brains develop. On post-pregnancy, however, mothers should keep in mind that their cholesterol levels should be back to normal. On menopausal phase, women again may suffer from high cholesterol while protective HDL levels decline. By age 75, women tend to have higher cholesterol levels than men.
- Cholesterol is one of life’s must haves. We are born with cholesterol in our bodies, proving how essential it is. In fact, our hormones and cells depend on it for them to function properly. Also, cholesterol is a building block for all of the body’s cells alongside helping the liver make acids that are needed to process fat.
- Raise your good cholesterol levels by sweating. Alongside healthy diet, sweating can also help you raise your good cholesterol level. This is why regular exercise is always highly recommended to keep away from heart diseases. According to Dr. Kopecky, an exact way to carry exercise out is by using interval training by exercising at a medium-intensity, sprinkling in bouts of high-intensity.
- Supplements don’t work as fast to trim down body cholesterol but they work. In line with this, doctors always point out that unless a person is at high risk for a heart attack or have familial hypercholesterolemia, taking supplements are not recommended as they do not work overnight and they would have to be taken daily. Instead, one should stick to dieting and exercising.
- More and more people are advised to medicate to lower cholesterol level. The medical community used to be hesitant in recommending medicines that lower cholesterol like statins. However, recently, tables have turned as the the American Heart Association guidelines recommend statin treatment for people with a 7.5 per cent or higher chance of having heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years. High cholesterol treatment is also strongly and highly advised for people who have had a heart attack, stroke, angina, or peripheral artery disease, people who have very high LDL levels or have familial hypercholesterolemia, and people who have diabetes and are between ages 40 and 75.