High Cholesterol :Types, Tests, Risk, Prevention, Treatments

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What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol actually is good for health. Our body needs cholesterol to perform and supports the normal function of cell membranes, hormone levels, and others. Moreover, if cholesterol level in your blood increased can lead to hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, or high blood cholesterol. 

Besides, if the human body having more cholesterol in the blood, it will build up inside the walls of blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque, or atherosclerosisPlaque will blocks the blood flow and cause a:

Cholesterol can be either good or bad. Furthermore, cholesterol is an oil-based substance. It does not mix with the blood, which is water-based and travels around the body in lipoproteins.

Moreover, cholesterol can be found in egg yolks, meat, and cheese and others.

Types of cholesterol

There are three types of cholesterol:

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL): Also known as “bad” cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol may risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL): Also known as “good” cholesterol, it carries cholesterol back to the liver. Then, the liver flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) are particles in the blood that carry triglycerides. VLDL stands for very low-density lipoprotein.  VLDL also called as “bad” cholesterol because it buildup of plaque in arteries. However, VLDL and LDL are different which is VLDL carries triglycerides and LDL carries cholesterol.

Levels and ranges

Therefore, cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The target range for cholesterol levels are (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020):

Lipid Profile Normal Range
Total cholesterol< 200 mg/dL
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol < 100 mg/dL
HDL (“good”) cholesterol≥ 60 mg/dL
Triglycerides< 150 mg/dL

Test to measures cholesterol

Cholesterol levels must measured at least once every five years, possibly as early as age 20 years.

Furthermore, high cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may also not know you are having a bad cholesterol levels in your body until sudden heart attack or stroke happen. So, it so important to check your cholesterol levels at least every 5 years.

The cholesterol screening, requires a blood sample. Therefore, before do cholesterol test, need to fasting for about 8 to 12 hours. Usually people will fast at night and do the test on the next morning.

The cholesterol test checks the levels of:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). 
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL). 
  • Triglycerides is a type of fat in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Total cholesterol is the total amount of cholesterol in the blood based on your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides numbers.

What risk factors affect cholesterol levels?

Risk factors that may raise your high cholesterol:

Age:  When get older, the cholesterol levels may rise. However, young people, such as children and teenagers also tend to have high cholesterol.

Heredity: High blood cholesterol can run in families.

Weight: Being overweight or obese also increases your cholesterol level.

Race: Some races may have an increased risk of high cholesterol. For instance, African Americans have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.

Diet: Saturated fat, trans fat in the food, will increase cholesterol levels. Saturated fats can make your cholesterol numbers higher, so better choose  diet that are lower in saturated fats. For instance,  red meat, butter, and cheese, have a lot of saturated fats.

Prevention

Avoid tobacco: Stop smoking. Frankly, it may reduce the number of good cholesterol in your body.

Diet: Reduce the number of trans fats and saturated fat. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, and whole grains.  Limit red meat, sugary products, and dairy products made with whole milk.

Harvard Health has identified 11 cholesterol-lowering foods that can lower cholesterol levels:

  • oats
  • barley and whole grains
  • beans
  • eggplant and okra
  • nuts
  • vegetable oil like canola and sunflower
  • fruits such as apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus
  • soy and soy-based foods
  • fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines
  • foods rich in fiber

Exercise regularly: Try to exercise about 30 minutes per day, 3 times a week.

Lose weight: Hence, losing about 10% of your body weight can make a difference in your cholesterol levels. Get advice from your healthcare provider about the safe ways to lose weight.

Avoid negative emotions: Learn how to deal with anger, stress, and other negative emotions in your life even though is hard.

Control blood sugar and blood pressure: Make sure to follow your healthcare provider’s guidelines for blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, to keep your blood pressure healthy.

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Medications

There are ways to treat high cholesterol:-

Lipid-lowering therapy

Drug treatment for people with high cholesterol depends on their level of cholesterol and other risk factors.

Healthcare practitioners usually will advise to start with diet and exercise first, but people with a higher risk of a heart attack may need to take statins or other medications to treat their disease.

Statins are the leading group of cholesterol-lowering drugs. The statins available on prescription in Malaysia include:

  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor®).
  • Fluvastatin (Lescol®).
  • Lovastatin (Mevacor®).
  • Pravastatin (Pravachol®).
  • Rosuvastatin (Crestor®).
  • Simvastatin (Zocor®).

Statin medications are one of the most well-known categories of cholesterol drugs. Thus, statin work by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver. Furthermore, statins work to decrease blood cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Other drugs:-

Apart from statins, a doctor may prescribe:

1. Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors

2. Niacin is a B vitamin that affects the production of fats in the liver.

3. Bile acid sequestrants are another class of drugs used to treat high cholesterol levels. Drugs, also called resins, are attached to bile acid, which cannot be used for digestion. In response, the liver makes more bile by using more cholesterol. These drugs shall include:

  • Cholestyramine (Questran®, Questran® Light).
  • Colestipol (Colestid®).
  • ColesevelamHcl (WelChol®).

4. Fibrates are also called as fibric acid derivatives. They are more effective at reducing triglyceride levels than LDL cholesterol. It  also helps to boost the levels of HDL cholesterol. These drugs include:

  • Fenofibrate (Antara®, Tricor®, Fenoglide®, Fibricor®, Lipidil®, Lipofen®, Trilipix® and Triglide®)
  • Gemfibrozil (Lopid®)

5. Omega-3 fatty acid medications derived from fish oils work to lower high triglyceride levels.

Apart from a healthy lifestyle, some medication helps to reduce the cholesterol level in our bodies. At mayflax, we provide pharmaceutical products to the customer. Cholesterol medication is also available like Crestor® and other drug brands. If you want to deal with us, you can contact us or sign up here for more info.

References:

Cholesterol, high cholesterol, types, tests, ranges, prevention, treatments, health, healthcare practitioners, good, cell membrane, hormone, hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, heart attack, stroke, blood, blood vessel, plaque, atherosclerosis, blood flow, coronary artery disease, good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, water-based, lipoproteins, LDL, HDL, VLDL, lipid profile, total cholesterol, triglycerides, signs, symptoms, screening, blood sample, age, heredity, weight, race, diet,tabacco, exercise, negative, emotion, blood sugar, blood pressure, medications, lipid-lowering therapy, risk factors, liver, statins, niacin, bile acid sequestrants, fibrates, omega-3 fatty acid.

                ABOUT THE AUTHOR  

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Raihan Ridzuan

Raihan Ridzuan, Bachelor of Science (Hons) Pharmacology, is staff officer of Mayflax, one of the nation’s leading healthcare and marketing company.

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