It is currently National Cholesterol Education Month, and consequently people may be wondering what their cholesterol levels are. Now here is a question for you: if you had high cholesterol, do you think that you could actually feel the difference in your body? Unfortunately, high cholesterol is not a condition that you can feel. However, if you ignore elevating cholesterol levels in your arteries, they can cause a number of other health complications which you will feel, like heart disease and eventually death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is currently the number one cause of death in the United States, surpassing even cancer. High cholesterol clinical studies have shown that this condition is one of the primary risk factors which contribute to the development of heart disease, aside from a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure. The issue with high cholesterol is that in most cases, people will experience no accompanying symptoms. Some people may feel very healthy, but in truth their cholesterol levels may be at a dangerously high level without them realizing it.
High Cholesterol? How can You Tell?
According to the most recent research on high cholesterol, the only way to accurately tell what your cholesterol levels are, is through a cholesterol test. This is actually a blood test, through which doctors will be able to examine your key lipids (fat) that are present in the bloodstream. A cholesterol test will show them your levels of LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.
If this test shows that you have relatively high cholesterol levels, then your primary healthcare provider may recommend a new diet designed to help lower your cholesterol. In addition to a new diet, they will probably advise getting more exercise and possibly some medication depending on the patient in question. In fact, according to the most recent guidelines, it is advisable for anyone over the age of 20 to get their cholesterol levels checked at least once every five years. If your family has a history of high cholesterol, or you have been diagnosed with a chronic condition like heart disease or diabetes, then you will need to keep a much closer watch on your cholesterol levels. Due to the relative lack of symptoms, this condition is often discovered during a routine checkup. Needless to say, a high cholesterol diagnosis often comes as quite a shock to many people who otherwise have been feeling healthy.
Other Methods of Pointing Out High Cholesterol
One of the best things that a person can do for themselves is knowing if they are at risk of having high cholesterol. In fact, this is exactly why we have a National Cholesterol Education Month– in order to raise awareness of high cholesterol levels across the country. Fortunately, many of the primary risk factors for high cholesterol are things that people can change on their own. You’d be very surprised how beneficial a healthier diet and regular exercise can really be. However, then there are the other risk factors like age, gender, and genes which we are incapable of changing. In general, the primary risk factors for high cholesterol include an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, smoking (this can substantially increase your overall risk), age (risk goes up as you get older), certain medications, family history, medical conditions like diabetes or thyroid gland problems.
If Left Unchecked
There are people out there who will choose to ignore their cholesterol levels, because they don’t feel any different. This of course is not a recommended course of action, since sustained levels of high cholesterol can be detrimental for the heart and the arteries. Many people have chosen to ignore their cholesterol levels, and now heart disease is the biggest killer in the United States.
Another risk that people run by ignoring their high cholesterol is developing atherosclerosis. Over time, a cholesterol deposit can form on inflamed vessels creating a waxy plaque. If enough of this builds up in the arteries, it can eventually block the flow of blood to the heart or the brain. This puts a person at serious risk of heart attack or stroke when the artery becomes completely blocked (this plaque can sometimes break off and move to another area of the body).
There are cases where people don’t realize they have high cholesterol until after they have suffered a heart attack or stroke. Hopefully more and more people take notice this September, and go get their cholesterol levels checked out. If you find that your levels are a bit high, then take advantage of this knowledge and make the necessary changes in your life.