Understanding the Dangers of High Cholesterol
Everyone has heard of high cholesterol. Some foods contain higher cholesterol levels than others, and should be eaten in moderation. If you eat a lot of eggs and ice cream, cheeseburgers and macaroni and cheese, steak and fried chicken, your cholesterol level might be too high. You can alternately eat cholesterol-fighting foods like oatmeal, apples, pears, whole grains, beans and salmon to help lower your cholesterol level.
But how do you know if you have an unhealthy level in the first place? The first move you need to make is have your cholesterol level checked by your doctor or health professional. Once you get that number, understand that maintaining a high level of cholesterol could lead to the following health dangers.
Plaque buildup in your arteries
Pain in your jaws
A numbness in your legs
Hardening of the arteries
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Multiple heart diseases
These are just a few of the many physical problems that a high cholesterol level can contribute to. Fortunately, unless you suffer from familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), a genetic and inherited disorder, your cholesterol level can be positively and quickly affected by making some simple lifestyle changes. And even if FH is the cause of your heightened cholesterol, those same lifestyle changes can help lower your numbers to a more acceptable level.
Lose that extra weight
By practicing the 5 following smart cholesterol habits, you can lose excess fat and pounds. A simple 5% to 10% drop in body weight significantly reduces your cholesterol level.
Exercise for 2 to 3 hours weekly
If you can spare 2 to 3 hours a week for moderate to moderately intense exercise, spread out over 3 to 5 days, you can raise your good (HDL) cholesterol level.
Start eating heart healthy foods
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, food rich in dietary fiber – these are all heart healthy foods which naturally regulate your proper cholesterol level. Processed foods, sugar, salt and white flour should be avoided.
Stop chewing or smoking tobacco
Tobacco is not required in the human body. It causes increased levels of LDL, leading to an unhealthy cholesterol situation. Just 24 hours after you stop smoking or chewing tobacco your risk of heart disease is cut in half.
Enjoy alcohol … moderately
Drinking 1 or 2 alcoholic beverages 2 to 4 times a week can be healthy for you. Anymore than that can do serious damage to your liver, your heart and kidneys, and raise unhealthy levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Get enough rest and drink lots of water
The amazing ability of the simple H2O compound to detox and purify your body is close to miraculous. Drink water several times throughout the day, and combine with plenty of proper rest at night. This basic one-two punch can pack lots of health benefits, including helping you regulate a healthy cholesterol level.
What Happens When You Get Your Cholesterol Checked?
High cholesterol and heart disease often travel together. So if you want to make sure a stroke or heart attack doesn’t pay you a visit, you should keep an eye on your cholesterol level. What exactly happens when you get your cholesterol checked? Is it an expensive, painful, time-intensive process? Let’s dig a little deeper into the cholesterol checkup process and find out.
What Are “Good” and “Bad “Cholesterols?
Low-density lipoprotein, better known as LDL or “bad” cholesterol, is a reason why your arteries get clogged. This makes your heart have to beat harder to circulate blood, and can lead to heart disease, stroke or a heart attack. The “good” cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein, abbreviated as HDL. It does a natural job of cleaning cholesterol from your blood when it is present in your body at healthy levels.
How to Discover Your Cholesterol Level
Finding out what your LDL and HDL levels are is important. The way you do that is by having your cholesterol level checked by a doctor or health professional. This is an inexpensive and simple process, and while usually performed in your doctor’s office or at the hospital, you can also check your cholesterol in the comfort and privacy of your own home. The test is generally given in the morning since you should fast for several hours to get the most accurate numbers.
Your doctor will draw blood, collecting a small amount. That is really all there is to it on your part. Your blood sample is sent away for testing. In some cases you may receive quicker results if your doctor or hospital has its own blood testing facility. However, your results should not take more than a few days in any instance. If your numbers come back high, your doctor will recommend at least one more tests to make sure the results are accurate.
When You Get Your Results
Okay, so you contacted your doctor and he has taken a blood sample and sent it off for testing. If your total cholesterol number is below 200 mg/dl, that is usually a good sign. Individually, you prefer your LDL testing out at 100 to 129 mg/dl. Your HDL is best when it measures 60 mg/dl and above. The results arrive, and your doctor warns that you have a slightly high cholesterol level. What do you do now?
Your doctor may prescribe medication. If you want to lower your cholesterol level so that it is healthy naturally, exercise and eat a nutritious diet. Staying physically active and eating the right foods can help you regulate a healthy cholesterol level, with no medication required. Just remember that the United States, Europe and Canada all use different guidelines to dictate a healthy cholesterol level. Talk with your doctor to have the entire process explained.