Most people are not aware they have high cholesterol until it is too late. Generally, patients who have high cholesterol do not exhibit any symptoms until the complications associated with elevated cholesterol levels have caused serious illness or damage to the body.
High cholesterol is usually detected with a blood test during routine physical, unless they have suffered a life threatening illness such as a heart disease or stroke. Both of these illnesses are caused by high cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat) present throughout the body. The body uses cholesterol to function normally and uses it for many things like forming new cells. The body gets cholesterol by manufacturing it and by the foods you eat.
There are three types of cholesterol lipids present in the blood:
- Low density lipids (LDL)-These are the “bad” cholesterol. These LDL’s are made of mostly fat (versus protein) and clog arteries.
- High density lipids (HDL)-These are good cholesterol and can help protect you from heart attack. The HDL’s are made up of mostly protein and help clear your blood vessels of LDL’s.
- Triglycerides-These are fats, that when combined with high levels of LDL’s in the blood; greatly increase your chance of heart attack and stroke.
There are however high cholesterol symptoms that can indicate you have developed elevated cholesterol levels that are jeopardizing your health.
High Cholesterol Symptoms Indicating Heart Disease:
- Chest pain, pressure or squeezing sensation
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Shortness of Breath
- Fainting or dizziness
- Heart palpitation or fluttering
- Numbness, tingling and/or cold sensation in lower extremities
- Open wounds on the lower extremities that do not heal properly
High Cholesterol Symptoms Indicating Stroke:
- Confusion, difficulty understanding
- Troubled or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Dizziness, fainting, incoordination, loss of balance
- Numbness, weakness, paralysis in face, arm, leg or one side of body
These symptoms frequently occur suddenly, without warning. There are indicative of serious complications. If you experience any of them you should seek medical attention immediately.
High cholesterol is caused by a number of factors, several of which are preventable, and most are correctable.
Factors Causing High Cholesterol
1. High fat diet, especially saturated fat.
2. Lack of regular exercise and being overweight.
3. Heredity-Genes effect LDL cholesterol levels by determining how fast it is made and removed from the body
4. Mental Stress-Some studies have shown and a link between high levels of mental stress and high cholesterol. This may be due to poor dietary habits when under duress.
5. Age and Sex-Women generally have lower cholesterol than men prior to menopause. This factor reverses (women have higher) after menopause.
Once diagnosed, treatment is focused on methods to lower LDL’s and triglycerides. These include lifestyle changes such as a low fat diet, incorporating exercise into your daily routine, stress reduction and relaxation methods, and cholesterol reducing medications.
Since high cholesterol is most often silent and symptomless, routine monitoring is recommended for optimum health.