Health is an important topic right now. People are concerned about COVID-19 and the upcoming cold and flu season, but there’s another silent epidemic that’s harming countless people in North America: high cholesterol.
Some people may wonder if they’re at risk for high cholesterol, others may find themselves Googling the question can high cholesterol kill you because they’re so concerned.
It’s always important to talk to your doctor about any health concerns you may have. In the meantime, we’re going to give you a rundown on what you need to know about high cholesterol.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that can be found in cells throughout your body. It plays a very important role in the creation of certain hormones, aids in digestion, and can also help your body create and use Vitamin D.
Some people are surprised to learn that the body can actually produce cholesterol on its own. Our livers do a great job of making the substance, and in fact, makes all of the cholesterol we need to live.
You can get extra cholesterol from the food you eat. Foods that come from animals contain cholesterol, and so do foods that are high in saturated and trans fats.
There are two kinds of cholesterol: LDL cholesterol and HCL cholesterol. HCL cholesterol is the kind of cholesterol you want in the body. It’s the kind that our liver produces and helps us stay healthy. LDL cholesterol is the bad kind of cholesterol that you can get from certain foods.
Why Is LDL Cholesterol Dangerous?
It’s important to remember that cholesterol isn’t limited to one part of the body, it circulates in our blood. When you have excess cholesterol it has nowhere to go, and eventually, it’ll start to accumulate in important arteries.
LDL build-up in arteries can severely restrict blood flow to certain parts of the body. Arteries that have a lot of build-ups that lead to the heart or brain can be especially dangerous.
In some cases, the cholesterol can combine with other substances in the body and form a thick, hard deposit in various arteries. When that happens they become less flexible and you can develop atherosclerosis.
Can High Cholesterol Kill You?
The answer to this question is complicated.
High cholesterol on its own can’t kill you, but it can make you develop other medical problems that could be deadly. Narrowed and blocked arteries can lead to potentially fatal conditions like heart attacks and strokes.
It also isn’t uncommon for high cholesterol to make other conditions more dangerous. People with diabetes often develop high cholesterol. Diabetes can already cause complications with circulation, and adding high cholesterol to the mix can make certain symptoms even worse.
High cholesterol can also cause coronary heart disease and high blood pressure. Neither of these conditions on their own is deadly, but if LDL levels worsen they could become fatal.
How Do You Get High Cholesterol?
There are a variety of things that may cause someone to have high cholesterol. Some of the are out of your control, but there are other risk factors you can put a stop to.
Unfortunately, some people are genetically predisposed to having high cholesterol. This particular condition is referred to as familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). This causes LDL to build up from childhood and leaves you with a higher risk of stroke or heart attack.
If your siblings or parents have problems with high cholesterol, you should pay close attention to your own levels. Talk to your doctor about your medical history and think about the next steps to take.
Age can be a factor in LDL build-up. As your body grows older your liver is less able to remove bad cholesterol. Diabetes can make high cholesterol worse because of the effects high blood sugar can have on artery walls.
There are several lifestyle choices that could affect LDL levels.
Smoking cigarettes can damage the walls of your blood vessels and make them more prone to accumulating fatty deposits. Some scientists even think that smoking can also lower your levels of good cholesterol.
Poor diet and a lack of exercise can heighten your LDL levels. Eating a lot of meat and foods with trans and saturated fats can lead to an excess of LDL.
How Can I Prevent High Cholesterol?
The effects of high cholesterol can be scary, but there is plenty you can do to protect your health and lessen your chances of being seriously affected by LDL. If you want to protect yourself or loved ones from the dangers of high cholesterol, make sure you keep these tips in mind.
Change Your Diet
A diet that’s high in animal products, trans fats, and saturated fats can severely heighten your risk for high cholesterol. That’s why it’s so important to eat a healthy diet.
Cut down on foods with bad fats, and focus on foods with good fats like omega-3s. Foods that are full of soluble fiber like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help reduce the risk of LDL getting absorbed in your bloodstream.
Change Your Lifestyle
Exercise can be one of the best things you do to combat high cholesterol. Moderate physical activity can help raise levels of HDL and keep your body fit. Talk to your doctor about a workout plan and aim to get 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.
If you’re at risk for high cholesterol or already have issues with it, it may be a good idea to take medication.
Talk to your doctor about your health concerns and see what treatments they recommend. Medications like Lipitor can be used to help control LDL levels.
Keep in mind that medicine isn’t a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you decide to take medication you should still be living as healthy of a life as possible.
Take Your Health Into Your Own Hands
If you ask yourself the question “can high cholesterol kill you?”, know that the answer can be yes in some extreme cases. That’s why it’s important for you to be proactive about your health and make good choices.
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Our customer care specialists are ready to answer any questions you may have. Be sure to contact us so we can help you find the medication and answers you need.
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