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All about cholesterol LDL cholesterol effects of LDL cholesterol HDL cholesterol HDL cholesterol benefits raising HDL Cholesterol level testing and measuring cholesterol cholesterol readings monitoring cholesterol causes of high cholesterol high cholesterol risk factors symptoms of high cholesterol triglycerides testing triglycerides therapy to lower cholesterol low cholesterol diet cholesterol recipes cholesterol medications nutritional supplements to reduce cholesterol low cholesterol food

What are the high cholesterol risk factors?

Your blood cholesterol level is affected not only by what you eat but also by how quickly your body makes low-density lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol and disposes of it. In fact, your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, and it is not necessary to take in any additional cholesterol from the foods you eat. If you have high cholesterol, the additional risk factors for developing heart disease include the following:



Increasing age: Being male greater than 45 years old or being female greater than 55 years old (or having premature menopause without estrogen replacement therapy) Heredity: A family history of premature heart disease (that is, having a father or other first-degree male relative who had a heart attack or died suddenly before the age of 55 years or having a mother or other first-degree female relative who had a heart attack or died suddenly before the age of 65 years)

Currently smoking cigarettes: Smokers' risk of heart attack is more than twice that of nonsmokers. Cigarette smoking is the biggest risk factor for sudden cardiac death: smokers have two to four times the risk of nonsmokers.

Alcohol: Alcohol intake increases HDL ("good") cholesterol but does not lower low-density lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol. Doctors don't know for certain whether alcohol also reduces the risk of heart disease. Drinking too much alcohol can damage the liver and heart muscle, lead to high blood pressure, and raise triglycerides. Because of the risks, alcoholic beverages should not be used as a way to prevent heart disease.

Stress: Stress over the long term has been shown in several studies to raise blood cholesterol levels. One way that stress may do this is by affecting your habits. For example, when some people are under stress, they console themselves by eating fatty foods. The saturated fat and cholesterol in these foods contribute to higher levels of blood cholesterol.

High blood pressure: High blood pressure increases the heart's workload, causing the heart to enlarge and weaken over time.

Low high density lipoproteins cholesterol (<40mg/dl): High levels of HDL or "good cholesterol (> 60mg/dL) help to lower risk for heart disease.

Diabetes: Two-thirds of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. If you have diabetes, it's critically important for you to monitor and control any other risk factors you can.

Obesity/Overweight: People who have excess body fat are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Obesity is unhealthy because excess weight increases the strain on the heart.

High homocysteine levels: Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood. Initial studies have found an association with high blood levels of homocysteine and an increased risk for heart disease. Homocysteine levels are strongly influenced by dietary intake of folic acid and B vitamins. Insuring adequate intake of these vitamins may help lower homocysteine levels.

More information on cholesterol

What is cholesterol? - Cholesterol is a steroid lipid, found in the cell membranes of all body tissues, and transported in the blood plasma, of all animals.
What is LDL cholesterol? - Low-density lipoprotein (or "bad") cholesterol carries the largest amount of cholesterol in the blood and is responsible for depositing cholesterol in the artery walls. An elevated LDL cholesterol level is associated with a greater risk of heart disease.
Why is LDL cholesterol considered "bad"? - When too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain.
What is HDL cholesterol? - High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is one of several types of fats and is measured as 'Total Cholesterol'. HDL is thought to pick up cholesterol from body tissues and bring it back to the liver for reprocessing or excretion.
Why is HDL cholesterol considered "good"? - Because HDL clears cholesterol out of the system and high levels of it are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, HDL is often called "good" cholesterol.
How to raise HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol)? - Regular aerobic exercise, loss of excess weight (fat), and cessation of cigarette smoking cigarettes will increase HDL cholesterol levels.
How cholesterol is measured and tested? - Cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, usually shortened to "mmol/litre" or "mmol/l".
What're the cholesterol readings? - Cholesterol readings you receive from your medical provider generally include total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and high density lipoproteins cholesterol levels.
How often should my cholesterol be checked? - According to a new set of national guidelines governing cholesterol measurement and treatment, it is recommended that the level be treated every 5 years.
What causes high cholesterol? - High cholesterol is caused by eating a diet that is high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Some people, however, have an inherited disorder in which the body cannot properly metabolize cholesterol.
What are the high cholesterol risk factors? - A diet high in certain types of fats is one factor. Medical problems such as poorly controlled diabetes, an underactive thyroid gland, an overactive pituitary gland, liver disease or kidney failure also may cause high cholesterol levels.
What're the symptoms of high cholesterol? - People with severely elevated cholesterol may have fat deposits in tendons and skin, liver and spleen enlargement, and abdominal pain if pancreatitis develops.
What are triglycerides? - Triglycerides are another type of fat that is associated with adverse health consequences. Many patients with high cholesterol also have high triglycerides.
How to test triglycerides? - For triglycerides testing, blood is drawn from a vein in the arm. A vein at the inside of the elbow or on the back of the hand is usually selected.
How can LDL cholesterol levels be lowered? - Lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol involves losing excess weight, exercising regularly, and following a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
How to reduce cholesterol with dietary therapy? - A low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is desired to keep your total fat consumption--saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated--to fewer than 30 percent of your daily intake of calories.
What about when I go out to eat? - Avoid fried foods. Entrees covered with sauces, as well as creamy dressing, thick soups and casseroles should be avoided because they are usually rich in fat. Look for items labeled "heart-healthy" on the menu.
What cholesterol medications are available to lower cholesterol? - Cholesterol-reducing drugs include cholestyramine (Questran), colestipol (Colestid), gemfibrozil (Lopid), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol) and simvastatin (Zocor).
What nutritional supplements are available to reduce cholesterol? - Artichoke is particularly helpful in relieving gastrointestinal problems that result from an inability to adequately process fats. Garlic assists the heart for centuries and has been used in herbal medicines for all manner of conditions.
What cholesterol lowering food are there? - Eating more fiber-rich foods may help to lower your blood cholesterol level. Soy products are also linked to reduced cholesterol because of their isoflavone content.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005, health-cares.net, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005