Risk Factors and Complications of High Cholesterol

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High cholesterol is a common health problem throughout the world. In fact high cholesterol and complications arising from it are the leading cause of health problems as well as morbidity and mortality across the globe. It is therefore important to know and understand the risk factors that may lead to high cholesterol and its associated complications.

If you have any of the following factors, you are at risk of high cholesterol and its complications:

  • Obesity: if you have BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more you are obese and at great risk of high cholesterol. Ideally keep BMI below 25.
  • Smoking: smoking can lower “good cholesterol” HDL as well as cause damage to the walls of blood vessels, where fatty deposits including cholesterol may accumulate and lead to narrowing of blood vessel.
  • Poor dietary habit: poor diet rich in cholesterol content such as red meat and high fat dairy products, saturated fats (including animal fats) can increase cholesterol in blood. We need cholesterol, however, our body can synthesize adequate amount of cholesterol and there is no need of external source of cholesterol through diet.
  • Diabetes: if you are a diabetic you have greater risk of high cholesterol. High blood sugar can cause increase in bad cholesterol LDL and lowering of good cholesterol HDL.
  • Lack of physical exercise: exercise helps in increasing good cholesterol HDL and lowering bad cholesterol LDL and lack of exercise does exactly opposite to this. Hence get enough physical exercise.
  • Large waist circumference: waist circumference of more than 40 inches (102 centimeters) for men and more than 35 inches (89 centimeters) for women increase risk of high cholesterol. So, shed some weight and reduce risk of high cholesterol.

High cholesterol can lead to complications such as development of atherosclerosis (accumulation of cholesterol and other fatty deposits on the walls of your arteries leading to narrowing of lumen and reducing blood supply). If these atherosclerotic deposits occur in heart and brain serious complications can arise, such as

  • Chest pain or angina: angina develops if arteries supplying heart contain atherosclerotic deposits which are unable to supply adequate blood during high demand such as exercise or mental stress.
  • Heart attack: heart attack occurs when an artery supplying an area of heart is blocked by blood clot from the plaque-rupture site.
  • Brain stroke: when a blood vessel supplying brain is blocked due to rupture of the artery (aneurysm) or by a blood clot and not able to provide oxygen to brain tissue, stroke occurs.

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Posted by admin - September 2, 2015 at 13:59

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Home Remedies and Lifestyle Modifications for High Cholesterol

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Lifestyle modifications essential for management of high cholesterol are very important (no less important than cholesterol lowering medications) and they include shedding pounds (reducing body weight), eating heart-healthy diet, regular physical exercise and quitting smoking. If one can manage to do all these lifestyle changes sincerely, it is not difficult to reduce high cholesterol.

Shed extra pounds:

Obesity is an important causative and risk factor for high cholesterol. Hence, shedding of even 5 to 10 pounds can give noticeable result in cholesterol level. Examine honestly what you eat and how much physical exercise you do daily and adjust accordingly to lose weight. Consult expert in weight loss and do not go for weight loss products that are easily available, which may be working for some, but for majority they do not work.

Regular exercise:

Minimum 30 minutes moderate exercise daily for at least 5 days a week is recommended. Brisk walking is a good choice for exercise. One can also do swimming, cycling, playing that need good physical exercise.

Eat heart-healthy diet:

Eating proper diet is the most important aspect of control of high cholesterol, because, what you eat directly impact cholesterol level in blood. Diet rich in fiber and other nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants etc.) can lower cholesterol as much as cholesterol lowering medications such as statins. Following measures in diet can help lower high cholesterol:

  • Limit dietary cholesterol: cholesterol is present in many foods such as organ meats, red meat, egg yolks and whole milk. Reduce intake of these foods. Aim should be to keep cholesterol consumption to less than 300 mg a day and if you have heart disease risk to less than 200 mg/day.
  • Remove trans fat from your diet: trans fats are commonly found in margarine and commercially baked cookies, crackers and snack cakes. They are bad for cholesterol and can increase cholesterol (LDL) in blood. And lower good cholesterol HDL.
  • Consume healthier fats: consume foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which are good. Nuts (peanuts, cashew nuts, wall nuts, almonds etc.) contain good amount of unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables: this is very important aspect of dietary change. Avoiding trans fat, cholesterol etc. are important and more important is to consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which have cholesterol lowering effect. Eat seasonal fruits and fresh salad.
  • Eat whole grains: make it a habit of adding whole grain in your diet (staple diet). Eat foods made of whole grain flour.
  • Eat fish: fish is good for heart and high cholesterol problem. Fish contain lots of unsaturated fats.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if you like drinks. If you can totally avoid alcohol that is also good.

Quit smoking:

This is another important aspect of managing high cholesterol. Quitting smoking improves HDL and reduces heart disease risk.

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Posted by admin - September 1, 2015 at 14:30

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High Cholesterol: Some Important Facts

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Cholesterol is a lipid present in blood. Cholesterol is essential for body to build new cells to produce various important hormones. However, excess or high cholesterol (known as hypercholesterolemia) can be harmful for your health, as high cholesterol is important risk factor for heart disease.

When blood cholesterol level is high it may lead to deposition of fats which may ultimately narrow down the lumen of blood vessel that enough blood may not be able to pass through it. When this situation occurs in heart it lead to serious heart problems such as heart attack, due to lack of adequate blood supply in heart and when it occurs in brain, it may lead to stroke lack of adequate blood supply to the brain.

What are the symptoms of high cholesterol hypercholesterolemia?

There are no symptoms of high cholesterol in blood. This is the thing to be worried about. The person with high cholesterol may not be aware of the condition, unless blood testing is done for cholesterol. Hence, regular health check up is mandatory to rule out high cholesterol in blood. It is recommended by experts that first blood cholesterol checking should be done at the age of 20 years and there after every five years. If you are a high risk individual for cholesterol, blood testing should be done every year.

What are the various types of cholesterol you should know about?

Cholesterol is carried in blood attached to protein and the combination of protein with cholesterol is called lipoproteins. There are mainly three types of cholesterol or lipoproteins in our blood, namely LDL (low density lipoprotein), VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein).

Low density lipoprotein or LDL: this is the “bad cholesterol” which accumulates in the walls of the artery and narrows the lumen and reduces blood flow.

Very low density lipoprotein or VLDL: this type carries triglycerides (a type of fat) which makes the lipoprotein larger in size and make deposition in vessel wall easier and also make the lumen of artery narrow much faster. If you have high VLDL, you may need to take medications to lower triglycerides, along with cholesterol lowering drugs.

High density lipoprotein or HDL: this is the “good cholesterol”. This is good because it picks up excess cholesterol from blood and carries it to liver for metabolism.

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Posted by admin - August 31, 2015 at 13:56

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Some Important Facts You Should Know About Optical Migraine

migraineGenerally people when people suffer from headaches they go through a simple massage or have some pill to get rid of it. But if you suffer from visual changes during these headaches then you must make sure that you visit a medical professional and get appropriate treatment done. In general cases headaches occur on a recurrent basis and it can be severely painful. This pain mainly takes place on one side of the brain and would face an aura before these pain occur. This includes dizziness, vomiting tendency, ringing in the ear or some visual flashes.

An optical migraine tends to be different from the general headaches. In this case there is absence of pain and the person just faces an aura of visual flashes. These cases occur with very few people and it takes time for the patients to realize the main problem. This kind of situation is also termed as ocular migraine or acephalgic migraine. The visual disturbance that a person faces mainly includes flashes of light in a zigzag form. At the start small aura of visual march starts occurring in front of the eyes. These zig zag flashes of light seem to be crossing the field of the vision and slowly start fading away after sometime. These attacks can last for few minutes to several hours. Sometimes severe cases of migraine can disturb the field of the patient’s vision by creating a blind spot.

It is difficult to diagnose chronic problems and one needs to go through few tests in order to get complete relief. When same kind of symptoms occurs over and over again for few years then the doctors prescribe certain tests in order to recognize the main reason behind the problem. In case of optical migraine if the visual pattern faces change in their path then it can be serious and one should take medical help as fast as possible. The main cause of migraine is unknown and no one has been able to recognize why this situation occurs. But there have been certain theories by doctors that migraines occur due to some kind of allergy, endocrinal disturbance or temporary edema.

Disturbance in blood circulation and problems in blood vessels causes headaches and visual problems. One must keep in mind that all headaches are not migraines and all visual problems are not optical migraines. There are certain symptoms that case optical migraine and one must visit a doctor before it becomes serious. In serious cases optical migraine is caused due to brain tumor, partial seizures, mini-stroke, and detachment of retina in the eye, multiple sclerosis or ischemic attack.

To get relief from the symptoms of these conditions the patients are generally given aspirin or sedatives. The patients are advised to sleep in a dark room in order to feel better and get a sound sleep. It is very important for the patient to observe the aura that he or she faces before the attack. This would help the doctor in prescribing a medicine depending on the actual symptom that occurs before the attack.

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Posted by admin - August 28, 2015 at 12:15

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What Can Cause Hypothyroidism?

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Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid occurs if your thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormones need for normal body functions. It is fairly common health problems, especially among elderly females. There are number of factors that can lead to development of hypothyroidism. They are

  • Autoimmune disease: people suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease) are prone to develop hypothyroidism. Autoimmune disease may affect thyroid gland too, which may affect normal functioning of thyroid gland and lead to hypothyroidism.
  • Thyroid surgery: surgical removal of part of thyroid gland known as subtotal thyroidectomy (a part of thyroif gland is removed leaving behind some portion of it intact for thyroid function) can cause hypothyroidism, if more part of thyroid gland is removed.
  • Treatment of hyperthyroidism: hyperthyroidism is overactive thyroid gland that produces much more quantity of thyroid hormones than required, leading to various problems. Treatment of hyperthyroidism includes use of medication (to reduce production and secretion of thyroid hormones), surgery, or use of radioactive iodine. All these procedures can lead to development of hypothyroidism, as a side effect.
  • Radiotherapy: radiation therapy for treating cancer, especially in head and neck can lead to hypothyroidism.
  • Medications: there are some medications used for treatment of other medical conditions (other than hyperthyroidism) can also lead to development of hypothyroidism. Drugs such as lithium, used for psychiatric diseases can cause hypothyroidism as side effect.

The above mentioned causes of hypothyroidism are common causes. However, there are also many other less common causes of hypothyroidism, they are:

  • Iodine deficiency: this is rare nowadays, because of iodization of salt in many countries. Iodine is available in sea foods and vegetables grown near sea. Hence, iodine deficiency is still common in many places (especially mountainous areas) which are far from sea.
  • Iodine excess can also cause hypothyroidism.
  • Pituitary gland problem (such as tumor) can cause hypothyroidism, by not being able to produce enough TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which is produced in pituitary gland.
  • Pregnancy: some women, during pregnancy, produce auto-antibodies against their own thyroid gland (a type of autoimmune disease) and develop hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism during pregnancy should be treated promptly to avoid complication and harm to fetus.
  • Congenital problems: some babies are born with a defective thyroid gland and some are born with no thyroid gland. Both these conditions lead to hypothyroidism, sooner or later.

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Posted by admin - August 27, 2015 at 13:49

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Larry Weltman, “Proper Nutrition Essential to Minimize DOMS”

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The acronym DOMS may sound unfamiliar, but what DOMS is short for – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – is all too familiar.

 

All of us have experienced delayed muscle soreness at one point or another. Maybe we haven’t exercised for some time and wake up with soreness in our muscles after once more hitting the gym. Those of who regularly exercise are also familiar to post-workout muscle soreness, and for sure, professional athletes are no stranger to muscle pain either.

 

Two things to know about muscle soreness or DOMS: one, muscle soreness is not a result of a build-up of lactic acid and other waste byproducts in the muscles, as many of us, including the scientific community, have long thought. The scientific community now understands muscle soreness to come from microscopic tears in the connective tissue of muscles, caused as a result of exercising.

 

A second point to realize: there is no hard and fast treatment for muscle soreness. Instead, there are only ways to minimize the pain.

 

“When I was in the midst of training for the Iron Man, there were days when it was almost hard for me to get out of bed or tie my shoes, the soreness was that bad.” This is a comment made by Larry Weltman, a Canadian who competed in the Iron Man competition, among other triathlon competitions, in the 1990s. Larry Weltman’s experience is certainly one shared by many, many other professional and amateur athletes.

 

So, if DOMS cannot be treated and if there is no way to completely prevent muscle soreness after exercising, what are some ways to minimize it?

 

Cooling down after a workout and massaging parts of the body that experienced the focus of the exercise — these are two ways that individuals can reduce the impact of muscle soreness.

 

One other way to reduce muscle soreness is through helping one’s body nutritionally.

 

Speaking once more about his own athletic experience, Larry Weltman adds, “Proper nutrition is obviously very important for [athletic] performance, and when I was training, increasing my protein intake and supplementing my omega-3s were both crucial for minimizing soreness.”

 

DOMs is associated with muscle inflammation. In turn, increasing one’s omega-3 through supplements is an intelligent way of minimizing inflammation and thereby minimizing soreness. Fish oil is a popular omega-3 supplement.

 

Besides omega-3 supplements, protein intake should also be a second nutritional measure to minimize post-workout soreness. Why is protein so important? Because your body needs protein to repair the microscopic tears in the muscles that were formed during the workout. Protein supplements in essence give more of what a recovering body needs.

 

How much protein is needed?

 

General recommendation says that daily protein supplement intake should be .8 grams for every kilogram of body weight.

 

Parting words from triathlon competitor Larry Weltman, “A lot of people give up their workout goals and training regiment simply because they’re sick and tired of dealing with soreness after exercising. I know plenty of people who just decided to give up.” Larry Weltman adds, “Thinking about how to reduce soreness and taking steps to proactively minimize it simply means you’ll be a healthier — and happier — athlete.”

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Posted by admin - August 26, 2015 at 12:09

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