Hypercholesterolemia – Why Is My Cholesterol So High?
Hypercholesterolemia is affecting about 42 million Americans, and more than 63 million have borderline high cholesterol. Hypercholesterolemia causes are varied, including family history and diet. Colestrol level is measured by a blood test: Total Cholesterol (blood)
- High cholesterol reaches a level equal to or greater than 240 mg / dl;
- Limit cholesterol (borderline high) values range from 200 to 239 mg / dl;
- A good level of cholesterol below 200 mg / dl;
- High cholesterol reaches a level equal to or greater than 200 mg / dl;
- Limit cholesterol (borderline high) values range from 170-199 mg / dl;
- A good level of cholesterol is below 170 mg / dl;
Here are some of the most common causes of hypercholesterolemia
- Nutrition. Choosing a diet rich in saturated fats (like a fried egg-based breakfast) can be the main cause of increased cholesterol.
Unhealthy fats are often found in: beef fat, pork, milk, eggs, butter or some types of margarine, cheese, also in many prepared foods, biscuits, chips and other snacks like that kind (this kind of food favours hypercholesterolemia). On the other side, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can be found in nuts and fish and can help lower LDL cholesterol, you gain the same benefit consuming fibers usually found in fruits, oats, barley and vegetables.
- Stress. Numerous studies demonstrate the link between stress and hypercholesterolemia, stress, directly affecting the habits and lifestyle in general. For example, in tensioned moments, some people consume large amounts of fatty foods and / or sweets, developing hypercholesterolemia. Stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) favors the production of cholesterol, fatty substance produced by the liver to provide energy needed for the body and for repairing damaged cells.The problem is that high levels of cholesterol clog arteries and can even lead to a heart attack or stroke.
In moments of stress, cortisol has the additional effect of producing more “sugar” – the energy source of the body for short periods of time. In recurring stressful situations, however, “sugar” is not used entirely and is converted to triglycerides or other fatty acids. Research has shown that these fat deposits are usually located on the abdomen (abdominal obesity) – increasing the risk for cardiovascular disorders or diabetes.
- Weight. Normally, excessive weight is in direct relation with hypercholesterolemia, having in mind that the body stores excess calories and triglycerides. Obesity can raise triglyceride levels, change in the body that favors reducing good cholesterol (HDL). Weight Loss with at least 10% compared to initial weight contributes significantly to a health improvement and a better blood cholesterol level.
- Activity Level. People who have an inactive or sedentary lifestyle, also have a increased risk of hypercholesterolemia or cardiovascular disorders. Lack of exercise can increase LDL cholesterol – bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol- HDL
People who have an inactive or sedentary lifestyle, increased risk of hypercholesterolemia or cardiovascular disease. Lack of exercise can increase LDL cholesterol – bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol – HDL.
- Age and sex. After 20, cholesterol level starts to grow naturally. For males, cholesterol begins to decrease after 50, and in terms of female gender, cholesterol level remains relatively low until menopause, then begins to rise, reaching close levels with those currently seen in males (equal risk of hypercholesterolemia at this stage)
- General health status. Annual medical consultation is very important and the practitioner must be properly informed about the patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease and his hypercholesterolemia. Certain conditions such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, can increase cholesterol levels.
Increased values of total cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is found in:
- pancreatic diseases: diabetes mellitus, chronic pancreatitis
- diet rich in fat and cholesterol (most common cause of hypercholesterolemia)
- administration of certain drugs: progestogens, anabolic steroids, corticosteroids, certain diuretics, levodopa, phenytoin, amiodarone;
- nephrosis: chronic nephritis, renal vein thrombosis, diabetic glomerulosclerosis
- familial hypercholesterolaemia type IIa
- biliary obstruction: cholestasis, biliary cirrhosis
Other causes of hypercholesterolemia
- Family history. In some cases, hypercholesterolemia can be present in young patients, not caused by any illness, but due to genetics. Some inherited diseases such as hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia can lead to dangerous levels of blood cholesterol, very difficult to control. For this reason, cholesterol levels should be maintained consistently low through diet and / or medication. However, some genetic abnormalities may promote increased cholesterol levels, regardless of diet or lifestyle adopted by the patient – familial hypercholesterolemia is a condition with genetic transmission, which increases the level of abnormal blood cholesterol.
- Smoking. One of the harmful effects of tobacco is good cholesterol lowering. Smoking lowers HDL cholesterol levels and is directly responsible for approximately 20% of deaths caused by heart diseases. When a person quits smoking, in a few weeks – months (depends for each person) reaches the normal level of HDL reducing the risk of hypercholesterolemia. HDL is affected not only by active smoking, but also by passive smoking too. High cholesterol (LDL) combined with smoking results in a increased risk of peripheral arterial disease.