Understanding the many things about cholesterol can be tricky and you are not alone in that. High cholesterol is a term that most people are wary of and then, the talk about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol comes around and cue confusion. First, let’s clear that up. Some types of cholesterol are essential for healthy living.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1 (CDC), there are two types of lipoprotein which carries cholesterol throughout the body and that along with the triglycerides are what make the ‘cholesterol’ of the human body. Of these, “LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or the “bad” cholesterol, makes up for most of the cholesterol, is what increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Whereas the other one called the HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is the “good” cholesterol carries cholesterol back to the liver, helping it to flush it off from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.”
What is High Cholesterol or Dyslipidemia and how is it related to heart diseases?
High Cholesterol (also known as Hyperlipidemia) or dyslipidemia is defined as a metabolic abnormality that leads to a persistent increase in cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body, especially an increase in LDL, triglycerides or decrease in HDL.2 Of the five types, Dyslipidemia and Hyperlipidemia have been found to elevate both – cholesterol and triglycerides.3
Studies4 say that, “The expected benefits of total cholesterol and LDL reduction seem to be in both primary and secondary prevention of Coronary heart disease which is usually how CVD manifests”. According to a study5 published in 2019, “In 2017, CVD caused an estimated 17.8 million deaths worldwide, corresponding to 330 million years of life lost…”
Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) leads to a build-up of fatty deposits in one’s arteries, which over time narrow the blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis leads to heart disease, heart attack, peripheral artery disease or stroke. Low levels of HDL combined with high levels of triglycerides can also increase fat build-up in the arteries, putting one at a greater risk of heart disease and other complications.
What are the causes of high cholesterol?
Some of the most common causes of high cholesterol is being overweight or obese, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, metabolic syndrome, genetic predisposition or Cushing Syndrome.12 Here are some things that you can do to have your cholesterol levels under control.
- Regular exercise: walking, jogging, cycling or any other form of exercise can help keep one’s cholesterol levels in check.
- Eating healthy: Eating a balanced diet is an integral part of keeping high cholesterol at bay since the amount of fat absorbed is healthily absorbed by the body and not deposited in blood vessels.
- Lose weight: As per experts, losing even 10-15% weight can make a difference in one’s cholesterol levels
- Quit smoking: While smoking is the cause of a number of ailments, it is known as one of the leading causes of cardiac disease and heart attacks due to plaque build-up.
- CDC. Cholesterol Myths & Facts [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019 [cited 2020 Apr 28]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/features/cholesterol-myths-facts/index.html
- Hedayatnia M, Asadi Z, Zare-Feyzabadi R, Yaghooti-Khorasani M, Ghazizadeh H, Ghaffarian-Zirak R, et al. Dyslipidemia and cardiovascular disease risk among the MASHAD study population. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2020 Mar 16;19(1).
- Agence Francaise de Securite Sanitaire des Produits de Sante, [AFSSAPS guideline for the treatment of dyslipidemia]. Rev Prat. 2005 Oct 31; 55(16):1788-93.
- Fakhrzadeh H, Tabatabaei-Malazy O. Dyslipidemia and Cardiovascular Disease. In: Dyslipidemia – From Prevention to Treatment [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2020 Apr 28]. p. 303–20. Available from: http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/27503.pdf
- Mensah GA, Roth GA, Fuster V. The Global Burden of Cardiovascular Diseases and Risk Factors. Journal of the American College of Cardiology [Internet]. 2019 Nov [cited 2020 Jan 14];74(20):2529–32. Available from: http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/74/20/2529
- OMS. Cadre Global Mondial de Suivi, Comprenant des Indicateurs, et Série de Cibles Mondiales Volontaires Pour la Lutte Contre les Maladies non Transmissibles. Geneva, Switzerland: OMS; 2012.
- Miller M. Dyslipidemia and cardiovascular risk: the importance of early prevention. QJM. 2009;102(9):657–667. doi:10.1093/qjmed/hcp065
- Janine Pöss, Florian Custodis, Christian Werner, Oliver Weingärtner, Michael Böhm, Ulrich Laufs, Cardiovascular disease and dyslipidemia: beyond LDL, Curr Pharm Des. 2011; 17(9): 861–870.
- Jennifer S. Lee1, Po-Yin Chang, Ying Zhang, Jorge R. Kizer, Lyle G. Best and Barbara V. Howard, Triglyceride and HDL-C Dyslipidemia and Risks of Coronary Heart Disease and Ischemic Stroke by Glycemic Dysregulation Status: The Strong Heart Study, American Diabetes Association
- Welty FK. Cardiovascular Disease and Dyslipidemia in Women. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(4):514–522. doi:10.1001/archinte.161.4.514
- Ama Moor, V. J., Ndongo Amougou, S., Ombotto, S., Ntone, F., Wouamba, D. E., & Ngo Nonga, B. (2017). Dyslipidemia in Patients with a Cardiovascular Risk and Disease at the University Teaching Hospital of Yaoundé, Cameroon. International journal of vascular medicine, 2017, 6061306. doi:10.1155/2017/6061306
- High blood pressure (hypertension) – Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. 2018 [cited 2020 Apr 29]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410