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.