Cholesterol

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Overview

Cholesterol is a substance present in the blood of all individuals. Normal cholesterol levels are necessary for many body functions, but having a high cholesterol level may lead to some serious complications.

Causes

There are two main causes of high cholesterol:

  1. Hereditary (rare)
  2. Unhealthy lifestyle habits – lack of exercise, poor unhealthy diet, and smoking

Symptoms

Even though high cholesterol itself doesn’t have any clinically detected symptoms, a high cholesterol level, leads to deposition of the excess cholesterol over the inner surface of the blood vessels. These plaques of cholesterol increase in size with the passage of time, as more and more cholesterol deposits. This causes the vessel lumen to become so small that enough blood cannot pass to the respective organ, supplied by that vessel.

This phenomenon leads to some of the following complications:

  • Chest pain – blood vessel supplying the heart gets narrowed, but not completely blocked
  • Heart attack – blood vessel supplying the heart gets blocked
  • Stroke – blood vessel supplying the brain gets blocked

Diagnosis

For the diagnosis of high cholesterol, a lipid profile is done. The following quantities are measured in a lipid profile:

  • Total cholesterol
  • Total HDL
  • Total LDL
  • Total triglycerides

Treatment

The following lifestyle changes, and medicines are implied in the treatment of high cholesterol:

  • Exercise
  • Reduce weight
  • Eat healthy
  • Quit smoking
  • Medications – Statins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, bile-acid binding resins
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