High cholesterol and its side effects: Related issues

side effects of high cholesterol

Cholesterol is carried in the blood. A combination of protein and cholesterol is called lipoproteins. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the “bad” cholesterol which can cause narrowing and hardening of arteries leading to heart attack. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is the “good” cholesterol which picks up excess cholesterol and transports it back to the liver. Unhealthy lifestyles with bad diet and lack of exercise can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels in the blood. Diabetes and smoking can also put you in the high-risk category.

An ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) study found that 72% of Indians have low levels of good cholesterol and high levels of bad cholesterol. While some of this can be attributed to genetic causes, the cause is as much triggered from the environments – stress and unhealthy eating patterns.

High levels of bad cholesterol can trigger off secondary health issues which can be serious in nature.

Side effects of high LDL cholesterol

Do you have pain the legs while walking? Or do you experience sudden bouts of dizziness? If so, read the side effects of high cholesterol and get a lipid profile to rule out the causes.

The human body needs high levels of good cholesterol to stay healthy. Cholesterol plays a role in Vitamin D, hormone production and bile. High cholesterol means more cholesterol in the blood than necessary. Sometimes one may not even be aware of this as it can be asymptomatic.

High LDL cholesterol in itself may not cause any symptoms which is why it is ignored until it leads to other dangerous symptoms. Some of the side effects of a high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood include:

  1. Narrowing and hardening of coronary arteries (in the heart) – too much of LDL and not enough HDL leads to development of plaque in the arteries. Plaque is a hardened combination of fats, cholesterol and other elements. Narrowed and hardened arteries can cause sudden, crushing pain and tightness in the chest (angina). Damaged arteries can lead to damaged heart muscles and heart attacks.

  2. High cholesterol can cause blood clots in the brain arteries and this may in turn lead to blood vessel ruptures. This ruptures lead to brain hemorrhage and subsequent brain stroke.

  3. When the arteries supplying blood to the lower limbs become narrow, it can cause sudden, sharp pains while walking. If the circulatory damage to the leg is too much, it may require amputation.

  4. If the renal arteries (in the kidney) are narrowed and hardened it can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure.

  5. High cholesterol can cause digestive problems too. According to the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse, more than 80% of gallstones are caused by high cholesterol. High cholesterol creates a bile imbalance thereby forming gallstones.
Cholesterol Management

It is essential for everyone above the age of 30 to get a lipid profile done each year. This gives an idea of the levels of LDL, HDL and triglycerides in the blood. Usually cholesterol lowering medicines called statins are necessary only if you already have had cardiovascular issues or are at a risk of developing such complications. Often, a healthy lifestyle with healthy diet, exercise, cutting back on sugar and salt, alcohol and quitting smoking is enough to bring back cholesterol levels to normal.

Be aware of the related risks associated with cholesterol and take measures to avoid getting into high levels of LDL cholesterol. If your family has a history of high cholesterol, talk to your doctor and see how you can cut back on your risks. Follow a vegetarian diet with whole-body exercise to stay fit.

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