Let us first understand what cholesterol is before knowing how it affects your health. Cholesterol is essentially a waxy substance that is required by your body to make essential vitamins and to build cells. Health problem arises only when the volume of cholesterol increases to more than what is needed by our body. The organ that generates cholesterol in your body is the liver. It takes from both saturated and trans fats from food sources, like dairy products, meat, poultry, etc. When these food sources are taken in more than the normal dietary capacity, the liver tends to generate unhealthy amounts of cholesterol.
Good cholesterol? Bad cholesterol? How does your body generate cholesterol? Here’s your A-Z guide on cholesterol.
Why Should You Be Concerned?
Cholesterol is a substance that flows through the body in the bloodstream. The risk to your health is directly proportional to the amount of cholesterol present in your blood. There are two types of cholesterol, namely, LDL, which is bad. And HDL, which is relatively good. If there is too much LDL or not enough HDL, both cases become risky as it leads to cholesterol being built upon the inner walls of your arteries that are linked to your heart and the brain.
In an extreme case or a condition known as atherosclerosis, the cholesterol mixes with other substances and forms a thick layer inside the arteries. This results in arteries becoming narrow and less flexible. When blood enters these narrow arteries, it may form clots resulting in an attack or a stroke.
High cholesterol is still controllable with a proper diet. However, the risk further increases in people who smoke, have a condition of high blood pressure or diabetes. It is, therefore, vital to keep a regular check on cholesterol levels and act immediately.
How To Read Blood Cholesterol Tests (Data Taken As Per Cleveland Clinic):
Triglycerides: The average level of triglycerides in the body depends upon age and sex. A normal level is below 150 mg/dL. If it is around 200 mg/dL, then it is borderline high, and anything above 200 mg/dL leaves you at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease.
LDL Cholesterol: One must ensure that the LDL levels are lower than 129 mg/dL. Anything in the range of 160 to 189 mg/dL is considered high, and over 189 mg/dL is dangerously high.
HDL Cholesterol: As mentioned earlier, the higher the HDL levels, the better it is. Anything above 60mg/dL is a good sign, and anything below 40 mg/dL is bad.
Total Blood Cholesterol:
As per the AHA (American Heart Association), the total blood cholesterol is obtained after adding up the LDL and HDL plus 20% of the triglyceride level.
When we consider the medicines to lower blood cholesterol levels, Statins have proven to be the best. They reduce the cholesterol output by blocking the HMG CoA reductase enzyme, which the liver uses to make cholesterol.
– Improves the blood vessels lining function.
– Reduces damage and inflammation (swelling).
– Reduces the risk of blood clots by stopping platelets from sticking together.
– Makes plaques (fatty deposits) less likely to break away and cause damage.
These additional benefits help prevent coronary vascular disease (CVD) in people who have had incidents like heart attacks and in people who are at risk.
Side Effects Of Statins:
Like any other drug, statins may produce unwanted side effects. These may include:
– Constipation or nausea.
– Headaches and cold-like symptoms.
– Sore muscles, with or without muscle injury.
– Liver defects.
– Increased blood glucose levels.
– Reversible memory issues.
When taking medicines, it is always advisable to follow the doctor’s advice carefully. The medication should be taken exactly as prescribed or could cause harm.