What Causes High Cholesterol?

The most common cause of high cholesterol is an unhealthy lifestyle. This can include:

– Unhealthy eating habits, such as eating a lot of unhealthy fats. One type, saturated fat, is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and processed and fried foods. Another type, trans fat, is found in some fried and processed foods. Eating these fats can raise your bad cholesterol (LDL)

– Lack of physical activity, with a lot of sedentary lifestyle and little exercise. This lowers good cholesterol (HDL).

– Smoking, which reduces good cholesterol (HDL), especially in women.

It also increases your bad cholesterol (LDL)

Genetics can also cause people to have high cholesterol. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited form of high cholesterol. Other medical conditions and certain medications can also cause high cholesterol.

What can increase my risk for high cholesterol?

Several things can increase your risk of high cholesterol:

– Your age: Your cholesterol levels tend to increase as you age. Although less common, young people, including children and teens, can also have high cholesterol.

– Family history: High cholesterol can run in families

– Breed: Certain breeds may have a higher risk of high cholesterol. For example, African Americans tend to have higher levels of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol than whites

– Weight: Being overweight or obese increases your cholesterol level

What health problems can high cholesterol cause?

If you have large deposits of plaque in your arteries, a piece of plaque can break off. This can cause a blood clot to form. If the clot is large enough, it can slightly or completely block blood flow in a coronary artery.

If the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle is reduced or blocked, it can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.

Plaque can also build up in other arteries in your body, including the arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to your brain and extremities. This can lead to problems like carotid artery disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

How do I know if I have high cholesterol?

There are usually no signs or symptoms that you have high cholesterol. There is a blood test to measure your cholesterol level. When and how often you should have this test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:

For people 19 years of age or younger:

– The first test must be between the ages of nine and 11

– Children should be tested again every five years

– Some children can have this test from the age of two if there is a family history of high cholesterol, heart attack or stroke

For people 20 years of age or older:

– Younger adults should get tested every five years

– Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every one to two years

How can I lower my cholesterol?

You can lower your cholesterol through heart-healthy lifestyle changes. These include a healthy eating plan, weight management, and regular exercise. If these lifestyle changes aren’t enough, you may also need to take medicine. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering medications available, including statins. If you take cholesterol-lowering medications, you still need to continue your lifestyle changes.

Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove bad cholesterol (LDL) from the blood. The machine then returns the rest of the blood to the person.

From: www.MedPlus.gov

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