What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is produced in the liver and would get stored in number of ways within our body. Although the body would require certain amount of cholesterol for its metabolic activities, it would not entertain more than what it desire and anything in excess would get deposited in vital structures apart from the liver and in most instances this would be detrimental to our health.
When we consult our doctor to obtain advice or in order to get our self checked for possible health risks, one of the most widely performed tests would be to obtain blood for cholesterol levels. This test report, often known as the ‘lipid profile’ would enable a physician to correlate all other risk factors and advice us on ways to improve our health, treatment to get us back in shape or further tests to exclude more sinister conditions which may co-exist.
What exactly is seen in the ‘lipid profile’?
One of the most important elements in this report would be the ‘cholesterol’ levels. In general, there would be several types of cholesterol values depicted in the report and among them the LDL, HDL and total cholesterol values would be rather important. The LDL cholesterol would represent the ‘bad cholesterol’ in the circulation and HDL would represent the ‘good cholesterol’ levels in the blood. At the same time, high total cholesterol would also be interpreted as bad in the context of LDL and HDL proportions.
So, what exactly are the risks involved when the cholesterol levels, LDL and total, are high?
The result can be detrimental to our health due to the possibility of cholesterol plaques obstructing the blood flow in small to moderate blood vessels leading to brain, heart and other organs in the body. In general, many of the heart attacks and ischemic heart events take place following blockage with cholesterol plaques and many fatalities are reported each year due to possible involvement of higher cholesterol levels.
What makes the cholesterol levels to rise?
When considering the factors leading to higher cholesterol levels, some are modifiable whereas the others are not. Among the non modifiable risk factors, family heredity would play a significant role. This means that, when a parent or a sibling of yours suffers from higher cholesterol levels or any consequences such as heart attacks due to its existence, you may also have a higher risk of developing the same.
Age is another risk factor which cannot be modified and in general as we age the tendency develop high blood levels of cholesterol would become rather high. Similarly, females after menopause have also shown a higher risk of developing cholesterol related problems.
Looking at the modifiable causes for higher cholesterol risk, diet would be the key element and many of the fast foods, meat, eggs and diary food items would be rich sources of cholesterol and too much consumption would be detrimental to life.
Obesity has also shown to affect positively in increasing the amount of LDL cholesterol along with lack of physical activities and smoking.
Thus, avoiding these factors would reduce the risk of high cholesterol buildup and at times can counteract the increased susceptibility through non modifiable risk factors as well.