What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an element in the body which enables cells to function correctly. Blood carries the cholesterol around the body to perform its duties. However too much cholesterol in the blood can be very bad for you and can put you at a high risk of health problems including heart disease. The ideal cholesterol level is under 5mmol/l and anything over this level can be classed as high cholesterol. Levels over 7.5mmol/l are seriously high and it is recommended to see a doctor to find out how to reduce your cholesterol levels.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
So what causes high cholesterol? The main culprit that causes high cholesterol is saturated fat. Being overweight and eating large quantities of food that are high in saturated fats and sugars, and drinking large amounts of alcohol will overtime increase the cholesterol levels in your blood. Other high cholesterol causes include smoking and/or leading a sedentary lifestyle. People who spend much of their life sitting or lying down tend to have levels of high cholesterol in their blood.
Stress is another main factor that causes high cholesterol and although it does not immediately impact the cholesterol levels in the body, it results in conditions which provoke the problem. Even if you are following a strict diet, if you do not take time to relax you can still suffer from high cholesterol.
There are however some high cholesterol causes that cannot be avoided. For a start men are more likely than women to suffer from this problem, and as we age the chance of also having high cholesterol increases. Women who suffer from an early menopause are more likely to suffer from high cholesterol than women who go through the menopause at the right time; and some people may suffer from hyperlipidaemia – which is a genetic condition and can cause high cholesterol. Diabetes, kidney diseases and an underactive thyroid can also cause high cholesterol.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
There are symptoms of high cholesterol but they can be hard to spot, unless they are on a large scale such as a heart attack or a stroke. Some smaller indications include yellow patches around the eye lids and white edges to the cornea – these can however be hard to spot. If you suspect that you might have high cholesterol then it is possible to take a test to know for sure. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 25 has a cholesterol test at least once every five years.
Although some causes of high cholesterol such as hyperlipidaemia cannot be avoided, the majority of people who suffer from high cholesterol can do something about it. The best way to lower your cholesterol levels is to lead an active lifestyle, eat a good diet, quit smoking and only drink alcohol in moderation.