Enquire NowCall Back Whatsapp
Understanding All About Cholesterol: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Home > Blogs > Understanding All About Cholesterol: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Understanding All About Cholesterol: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Cardiology | by Dr. Sabyasachi Pal | Published on 01/05/2023


Our body constantly requires cholesterol. Cholesterol is a crucial ingredient needed by the body's cell to maintain our membrane's structural integrity and fluidity. In short, it is essential to our lives. Normally, we obtain cholesterol from two sources. The first source is our body, that is, our body produces cholesterol. The other source is the food we eat. We consume food with cholesterol to get the remaining amount. Usually, cholesterol produced by the body is just about enough. But overconsumption of cholesterol has also been long associated with health issues. 

Overconsumption of cholesterol leads to the excess amount getting stuck in the bloodstream. This is often rendered as a major cause of cardiovascular problems. But do you know our heart isn't the only thing that gets affected? Even your feet can be affected by high cholesterol levels. Excess cholesterol is a known cause of PAD (peripheral arterial disease). In this blog, we will discuss everything about cholesterol so stay tuned till the end. Kindly note that it is for informational purposes only and doesn’t interfere with the consultation of a doctor.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a lipid molecule - a fatty substance produced by the waxy liver to digest fats from food. It is transported through large molecules called lipoproteins in the blood to various organs. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that presents itself naturally in cell walls and membranes everywhere in your body, including the brain, nerves, muscles, skin, liver, intestines, and heart. 

Your body is used to maintain overall health and body function, and it works to build and repair cells, produces hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, vitamin D, and produces bile acids which are proven to assist in fat digestion. Cholesterol is produced by the liver and is also found in certain foods. It only takes a small amount of blood to meet these needs and our body produces enough needed.

What are the different types of cholesterol?

There are two different types of cholesterol which include:

  • Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is also known as bad cholesterol and is considered to be bad because an increase or excess amount of it can cause arterial blockage or thickening of the walls. If this occurs, a person may have a higher risk of having arterial and heart disease.
  • High-density lipoprotein or HDL known as good cholesterol is the total opposite of its twin. This type of lipid primarily functions as a scraper that scrapes off excess bad cholesterol away from the bloodstream and arterial walls and then pushes them toward the liver for excretion.
  • Triglyceride is another lipid that is also found in the bloodstream along with other types of cholesterol. It serves as a storage of unused calories which is later on used for energy. High amounts of it can also put you at risk of heart disease.

What is the normal cholesterol range for every type?

Below is a quick guide and reference that shows the normal values of the different types of cholesterol.

  • Total cholesterol- less than 200 mg/dL
  • LDL- less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL levels- more than 50 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides- less than 150 mg/dL

What are the symptoms of cholesterol?

When the cholesterol levels are high, it doesn’t cause any symptoms. So, it becomes difficult to identify the cholesterol symptoms beforehand. However, it increases the probability of developing other conditions. Also, people with the following factors usually experience high levels of cholesterol:

  • People who are obese 
  • People with diabetes 
  • Smokers 
  • Daily consumption of alcohol

Conditions that are caused by cholesterol and hence are considered to be the symptoms of cholesterol:

What causes high cholesterol levels?

There are a number of factors that lead to increasingly high levels of cholesterol. Here are some of the main cholesterol causes: 

  • Smoking 
  • Obesity 
  • Poor diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle 
  • Diabetes 
  • Age
  • Lack of exercise

How is cholesterol diagnosed?

When it comes to cholesterol diagnosis, then the first step followed by a healthcare professional is evaluating the medical history and the conditions experienced by a patient. A blood test is ordered and sent to the laboratory for examination. The doctor usually asks the patient not to eat at least 12 hours before the test. Then, with a lipid panel, doctors can easily evaluate the LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. 

What are the treatment options for high cholesterol levels?

For cholesterol treatment, there are two options that are usually included i.e. medications and lifestyle changes. Here is how the treatment process followed to manage the high levels of cholesterol:

Medications 

Generally, with lifestyle changes, it is easy to manage high cholesterol levels, but in some instances, the following medications are recommended: 

  • Statin medications- It helps in slowing down the production of cholesterol in the liver and removing the cholesterol circulating in the blood
  • Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors- It is recommended to avert the cholesterol absorption from the intestine and remove it from the liver 
  • PCSK9 inhibitors- It is given to patients who have cholesterol in certain situations
  • Fibrates medication for lowering the triglycerides levels 
  • Niacin or nicotinic acid is given as it involves affecting fats production in the liver 
  • Omega-3 fatty acid medications are recommended ad it benefits in lowering the high levels of triglyceride

Lifestyle changes

Another treatment option that is recommended to follow involves lifestyle changes. Here is how one can make specific changes in his/her lifestyle: 

  • Make sure to exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes 
  • Quit smoking 
  • Limit the consumption of alcohol
  • Ensure to include healthy eating habits such as fruits and green vegetables 
  • Maintain healthy weight 

Conclusion

High cholesterol levels are known to act like a silent killer. You can have it for years and may not know about it. With a blood test, you can find out your lipid levels. It is even recommended to get a blood test done once a year by healthcare professionals. It affects every age group even if an individual is active and healthy. It is important to diagnose any medical conditions beforehand and reduce the risk of heart disease. You can get in touch with BM Birla Heart Research Centre for diagnosing and treating cholesterol. Always remember that it is vital to know your cholesterol numbers and consult your doctor and understand your treatment options. 

FAQs

Which is the good cholesterol?

High-density lipoprotein or HDL is considered to be a good cholesterol level. 

How to reduce cholesterol naturally?

The best way to reduce your cholesterol naturally is to maintain weight, eat healthy, exercise regularly, and quit smoking, and alcohol.