High Cholesterol: Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatment

Cholesterol is a substance found in the blood, which is typically used for the building of healthy cells. While some amount of cholesterol is essential, excess cholesterol in the blood can obstruct the blood flow through the arteries increasing the risk of stroke or heart attack, depending upon which arteries are blocked.

Symptoms of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol has often been called a silent killer because of the lack of any distinct symptoms. Many people do not know that they have high cholesterol levels till they go for a routine check up. To be on the safe side, it is best to get your cholesterol levels tested every five years after the age of 20. Your doctor may recommend more frequent cholesterol screenings if your results are outside of the accepted range and also if you have any of the risk factors for cholesterol.

Risk Factors for High Cholesterol

Certain factors can put you at a higher risk for high cholesterol levels. These include:
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• Family History of High Cholesterol
• Obesity
• Poor Dietary Habits
• Lack of Exercise
• High Blood Pressure
• Diabetes

High Cholesterol Treatment

Significant lifestyle changes are the decisive factor in lowering cholesterol levels. Some of the recommended lifestyle changes include:

Maintaining optimum weight: Excessive weight increases your cholesterol levels. Even a small loss of weight can lower your level of cholesterol significantly. Rapid weight loss is not the answer however. It is best to aim for long-term, sustainable weight loss.

Eat foods that are heart-healthy: Eliminate trans fats such as butter and margarine from your diet and limit your dietary cholesterol by using skim milk, lean cuts of meats and egg substitutes. Select only whole grains; eat at least 3 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily; eat heart-healthy fish.

Drink alcohol only in moderation: If you choose to drink, it is best to do so in moderation, which means one to two drinks a day for men and no more than one drink a day for women.

Maintain a regular exercise schedule: Moderate exercise for about 30-60 minutes a day can help regulate your cholesterol levels. If you find you cannot fit in 30-60 minutes at a time, fitting in 10 minutes of exercise three to four times a day is good enough.

Quit Smoking: Smoking is the single most harmful lifestyle habit anyone can ever acquire. When you stop smoking, not only do you immediately improve your HDL cholesterol levels but your blood pressure also decreases within 20 minutes of quitting and your risk of heart diseases also decreases within 24 hours.

Sometimes, lifestyles are not enough to lower your cholesterol metals and your doctor will recommend certain medication depending upon your individual risk factors, your age and your current health.


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