Are You at Risk for High Cholesterol?

Are You at Risk for High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol level in the body can eventually lead to clogged arteries, which in turn can result to complicated heart problems. When left undiagnosed, cholesterol can build on the walls of the arteries and hinder the flow of blood to the heart and other organs of the body. Not all people are at risk for high cholesterol. However, it is easy to determine whether you have high cholesterol levels in your body or not simply by understanding what its risk factors are. Studies have proven that several groups of individuals are more prone to the negative effects of cholesterol in the body than others.

Knowing your family medical history is a good way to find out whether you are at risk for high cholesterol or not. Many people are diagnosed with high cholesterol but there are just some who are more prone to the condition much earlier in their lives. Having a parent or both parents with high cholesterol levels can increase your risk for having it too. It may also be harder to treat if you have a family history of the condition according to medical experts. Since you can't change the fact that you are carrying the genes of your parents, the best thing you can do is to have yourself checked and diagnosed if you have high cholesterol level at the moment or not.

Your age and gender are also another factor that can contribute to high cholesterol levels. The body's cholesterol level rises naturally as a person reaches 20. In men, cholesterol levels usually increase after the age of fifty. In women, it is during menopause that cholesterol levels begin to rise. Women also have a higher risk for high cholesterol during their pregnancy as a result of fluctuation of hormones progesterone and estrogen.

Among the risk factors for high cholesterol, a poor diet is perhaps the one that can contribute the most. A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, and bad cholesterol is one that can raise up your cholesterol level significantly. If you are a person who loves to eat processed food and food high in sugar and salt, you are a good candidate for high cholesterol. If you want to maintain a healthy level of cholesterol in your blood, you have to eliminate of these types of food or at least regulate your intake of them.

You can do this by limiting the frequency of eating outside, especially in fast food restaurants that serve food high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fat such as hamburger, fries, and donuts. At the same time, increase your intake of foods that are rich in fiber and good cholesterol such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Almonds, oatmeal, soy, fish, and red wine are also essential for fighting bad cholesterol in your body so make sure you include them in your regular diet.

Moreover, find more time to exercise if you want to regulate your cholesterol levels. Living a sedentary lifestyle is key to increasing your risk for cardiovascular diseases so if you don't want to die young of a heart attack or stroke, limit your time in front of the computer and the television. Instead, go outside and engage in physical activities like sports and the like. You don't necessarily have to go to the gym and have a good workout in order to maintain your health. Simple activities such as walking your dog in the park or cleaning your house can already be considered as forms of exercise. The point is to stop being inactive and to start regulating your cholesterol levels through physical activities.

While having a high level of cholesterol in the body can sometimes be inevitable, doing some major lifestyle changes can actually delay its onset. Quitting bad health habits like smoking and drinking can greatly help lower your blood cholesterol. Going early to bed and getting as much rest as your body needs also helps. Furthermore, since stress is considered the root cause of any health condition including having high levels of cholesterol, do your best to eliminate stress in your life or at least put in a manageable level.

Finally, monitoring your health is an excellent way to stay fit and healthy, so have yourself regularly checked by your doctor.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad