October is National Cholesterol Month, and this year people are urged to learn more about their cholesterol levels and how to manage them correctly. High cholesterol is known to have a significant impact on our health, and particularly our heart.
If left untreated, high cholesterol can lead to strokes, or a heart attack. Here, we look at why high levels of cholesterol can be dangerous for the heart, and what you can do to protect yourself.
What is high cholesterol?
Cholesterol in the blood is important for our health. However, in excessive levels it can lead to serious health problems.
Although it is extremely common, many people don’t realise they have it because in most cases it doesn’t produce any symptoms. It is important to note that anyone can develop high cholesterol regardless of their age, weight, or lifestyle choices. However, these factors can increase the risk.
The main factors that cause high cholesterol include:
- Your genes
- The menopause
- Consuming too much saturated fat
- Carrying excess weight around your middle
- An underactive thyroid
- Type 2 Diabetes
Men are also known to develop high cholesterol more than women, as are those of South Asian descent.
How does high cholesterol affect your heart?
When you have high cholesterol, it can build up in the artery walls. Plaques can develop, hardening over time. This will eventually cause the arteries to narrow and stiffen, a process known as atherosclerosis.
As the arteries narrow, blood finds it more difficult to flow through. The heart then has to work harder to pump the blood around the body. If left untreated, eventually the heart will weaken and become less efficient.
If plaques do form, this can also lead to the development of blood clots. These can potentially block the arteries and cut off your blood flow. If part of the blood clots manage to break away, they can travel and become blocked in another part of the body. This in turn could lead to a stroke or heart attack.
When not addressed, high cholesterol can lead to angina, coronary artery disease, mini strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure.
Seeking treatment for high cholesterol
If you want to prevent heart issues caused by high cholesterol, seeking treatment early is important. There are lots of ways you can reduce your cholesterol levels, including medications as well as simple lifestyle choices.
Increasing how much exercise you do, eating healthily, and quitting smoking can all help. Additionally, Statins help to reduce high cholesterol and increase the number of low-density lipoprotein receptors in your liver.
If you are concerned that you may have high cholesterol, book an appointment with Dr Konrad Grosser today. After assessing your condition, he will be able to advise you of the best treatment to bring your cholesterol levels back under control.