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Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. High levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. However, cholesterol is necessary to have healthy cells in the body.

Why high levels of cholesterol are dangerous?

Fatty deposits can occur in the blood vessels with high cholesterol levels. Eventually, these fatty deposits grow, making it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Sometimes these deposits can break suddenly and form a clot, that causes a heart attack or a paralytic stroke.

What are the main causes of high cholesterol values?

  1. High cholesterol can be inherited, but it is often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Thus high cholesterol values are treatable and preventable. A healthy diet, regular exercises and sometimes medications can help reduce high cholesterol levels.

What are the risk factors that increase the levels of bad cholesterol?

  1. Diet rich in saturated fat, food items high in cholesterol such as red meat and full dairy products would also increase the LDL levels. Trans fats found in various snacks and packaged foods raise cholesterol levels. Obesity, lack of exercise, smoking contribute to the increase in LDL cholesterol which is bad cholesterol. Regular exercises increase the HDL cholesterol that is good for the heart. Smoking reduces HDL cholesterol, which is good cholesterol.

What is the link between cholesterol and diabetes?

  1. High blood sugar contributes to higher levels of dangerous cholesterol called very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. Elevated blood glucose damages the lining of your arteries.
  2. What are the complications of high cholesterol levels? High cholesterol can cause dangerous accumulation of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of the arteries. This is known as atherosclerosis. These deposits are known as plaques. They reduce blood flow through the arteries. This results in angina, heart attack and paralytic stroke.

How to prevent high cholesterol levels?

  1. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce high cholesterol levels. Having a low salt diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole-grain is suggested. Limit the use of animal fats. One must lose extra weight and maintain a healthy weight. Avoiding smoking is absolutely necessary. Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Reduce and manage stress.

How is the diagnosis of high cholesterol made?

  1. A lipid profile report includes total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. For the most accurate measurements do not eat or drink for at least 9 to 12 hours before the blood sample is taken.

What about cholesterol testing in children?

  1. One cholesterol screening test between the ages of 9 and 11 and another screening test between the ages of 17 and 21 is recommended. If you have a family history of early-onset coronary artery disease, obesity or diabetes, you may require more frequent testing.

What is the treatment for high cholesterol levels?

  1. Besides diet and exercises, medications may be required. These are known as statins. If you are diabetic, irrespective of cholesterol levels statins are recommended to prevent heart attacks and stroke. Bile acid resins, Ezetemibe that reduces cholesterol absorption, injectable drugs are known as PCSK9 inhibitors are also available.

What are the medications for high triglycerides?

  1. Your doctor may prescribe Fibrates, Niacin, Omega-3 fatty acid supplements and may recommend proper control of blood glucose if you have diabetes. However, lifestyle changes as exercises, dietary restriction and weight reduction are strongly recommended.
High levels of cholesterol predispose to increased risk for heart attack and paralytic stroke. The risk multiplies if you have diabetes, hypertension or obesity. Lack of exercises, smoking and mental stress further increase the risk.
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Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.

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