High cholesterol, which goes hand-in-hand with increased risk of heart diseases and stroke, is probably one of the most concerning health problems anyone can encounter. Many different factors can contribute to alarming levels of cholesterol in the body.
What are causes of high cholesterol?
1. Unhealthy eating habits
Your diet largely affects the levels of cholesterol in the body. Foods that are high in saturated and trans fat, as well as cholesterol itself, increases the risk of heart diseases. If you often consume fried foods, fast food, processed meat and other food items, sweets, and food with preservatives, it may be time to get your cholesterol level checked and change your eating habits.
2. Lack of exercise
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest contributors to high cholesterol. That said, exercising is one of the most powerful ways to manage high cholesterol. Physical activity helps increase the level of good cholesterol1 while lowering bad cholesterol. Furthermore, it also improves blood circulation and overall heart health.
You probably already know that smoking is a leading cause of several lung diseases, but it also plays a major role in increasing a person’s cholesterol level and risk of heart diseases2. Smoking does cause high cholesterol. It makes bad cholesterol much stickier and thicker, making it cling to the artery walls, which then leads to blockage. In addition, it lowers good cholesterol while damaging the walls of the arteries. It may also raise one’s heart rate and make the blood vessels contract.
There’s evidence that high cholesterol level may run in families. That’s why even if it’s more common in older people, those who are younger than 55 may also be affected. In fact, some are even born with high cholesterol.
This condition is called familial hypercholesterolemia, which is caused by a genetic defect that makes it hard for a person’s body to remove LDL or bad cholesterol. According to Hopkins Medicine3, it’s most commonly observed in certain populations including French Canadians, Jewish, Lebanese, or Afrikaners (an ethnic group in South Africa).
5. Other health problems
Diabetes and hypothyroidism can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol and, potentially, heart complications.
Diabetes may lower good cholesterol levels and raise bad cholesterol levels4 in the body. This is called diabetic dyslipidemia, a condition that makes it more likely for someone to develop heart diseases.
Meanwhile, hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid hormone levels are low. When this happens, it becomes more difficult for the body to break down and get rid of bad cholesterol5, leading to fat buildup.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
Here’s the concerning part: those who have high levels of cholesterol often don’t know they have it. In most cases, it’s a silent health issue, which usually does not cause any symptom. Many people don’t realize they have unhealthy levels of cholesterol until they start developing complications in the heart, such as stroke or a heart attack.
If you’re 20 years or older, let your doctor know that you want to undergo routine cholesterol checks. Doing so can help you maintain a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle.
If you’re diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend medications to help lower it. Lifestyle changes relating to your diet and physical activity can also help you manage high cholesterol.
**This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advise, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advise of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.