|High Cholesterol - Signs, Symptoms, Causes|
High cholesterol is what the average person calls it. The medical term is hypercholesterolemia and it is a risk factor for heart disease.
No signs or symptoms are usually visible until the problem becomes significant. Occasionally, yellowish patches appear around the eyelids or in the outer margin of the iris of the eye. Lumps may form in the tendons of the body, especially in the Achilles tendon.
But most of the time, the fatty waxy yellowish substance lodges inside the walls of the blood vessels, where you cannot see it. That's why you must have your blood levels checked on a regular basis, even if you feel healthy. It could be a family issue you are unaware of.
One of the rare causes of hypercholesterolemia is genetics. It is then referred to as familial hypercholesterolemia. There are actually two genetic mutations, one being much rarer than the other. The rarest form can cause severe cardiovascular disease during childhood. People with the more common, but still rare form tend to develop cardiovascular disease between the ages of 30 and 40.
If members of your family have died from heart attacks at relatively young ages, the reason could be familial high cholesterol. It is in your best interest to get a blood test.
Watch Your Diet
Excessive dietary intake of saturated and trans-fatty acids is the most common cause of hypercholesterolemia in the Western world. Dietary cholesterol was at one time blamed, but most research indicates that cholesterol-rich foods like eggs can be consumed in moderation. For example, eating three eggs per week is okay.
Some people have switched to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Usually the result are quite remarkable. Meat, especially red meat, is a source of saturated fat that can cause high cholesterol.
Get Moving and Keep Going
Another common cause is lack of physical activity. Physical activity is one of the only things that raise HDL levels. HDL is considered "good" cholesterol, because it carries the yellow goo out of the bloodstream. LDL particles are the ones that "stick around" in the blood.
You Have Heard the Warnings Repeatedly
Smoking and alcohol consumption in excess of one or two drinks per day are other causes of high cholesterol. Both smoking and alcohol can cause the liver to produce more LDL particles.
Anyone who is obese should have their HDL and LDL blood levels checked regularly. Obesity raises triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are fats in the bloodstream. Triglycerides include free fatty acids and the cholesterol particles we have been talking about. When a person has high cholesterol, their total blood triglycerides are also higher than normal.
Age a Factor -all
Getting older is a possible cause, although not necessarily inevitable. Dietary changes and improved nutritional status can combat high cholesterol regardless of a person's age.
A number of other health problems can cause hypercholesterolemia including:
* Type II diabetes
* Cirrhosis and other liver diseases
Certain prescription medications can also cause the health problem including progesterone, corticosteroids, anabolic steroids and diuretics. No drug is without risk and many of them have a negative effect on liver function. Anything that messes with the liver can cause hypercholesterolemia, as well as other health problems.
While statin drugs are the usual treatment of choice, they too are risky. It is possible to lower high cholesterol naturally without drugs. Now that you know some basic causes, you'll learn how in my next article.