All you need to know about cholesterol

The article was professionally consulted by BSCK II Nguyen Quoc Viet - Department of Medical Examination & Internal Medicine - Vinmec Danang International General Hospital.

Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid). Normally, cholesterol is produced by the liver and is an indispensable component for making cell membranes, some hormones and vitamin D.

1. What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat, insoluble in water, it is transported in the blood by lipoproteins produced by the liver. Cholesterol binds to two main types of lipoproteins, forming low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).
1.1. What is low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol)? LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad cholesterol,” because LDL carries cholesterol to the blood vessels. If the concentration of LDL cholesterol in the blood is too high, it is deposited in the walls of blood vessels, forming atherosclerotic plaques, narrowing the blood vessels, restricting the flow of blood, increasing the risk of blood clots. can cause myocardial infarction, stroke).
1.2. High density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) HDL cholesterol is good cholesterol, because HDL helps bring cholesterol back to the liver to be eliminated from the body, helping to reduce the formation of atherosclerosis. Therefore, having high levels of HDL cholesterol reduces the risk of blood clots forming, thereby reducing complications such as heart attack and stroke.
1.3. What are Triglycerides? Triglycerides are also a type of fat, but have a different role than cholesterol. The body uses cholesterol to make cells and hormones, while triglycerides are used by the body for energy.
If the body receives more energy than it needs, the excess energy will be converted into triglycerides stored in fat cells. High levels of triglycerides increase the risk of many health problems.
Tất cả những điều cần biết về Cholesterol
Triglyceride cũng là một loại chất béo nhưng có vai trò khác với cholesterol

2. Check your blood cholesterol levels periodically

High blood cholesterol levels often have no symptoms, so it's a good idea to get tested periodically. The American Heart Association recommends that people 20 years of age and older have their cholesterol tested every four to six years. If you have a history of high cholesterol or risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your cholesterol levels should be checked more often.
Blood cholesterol levels include three indicators: total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.

3. New recommendations for normal cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is a necessary component for the body to function properly. However, high levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of serious health problems.
In 2013, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association released new recommendations for the treatment of high cholesterol. According to the new recommendations, treatment is not only based on cholesterol levels but also on other cardiovascular risk factors. These risk factors include both diabetes and the estimated 10-year risk of cardiovascular events (such as myocardial infarction or stroke). Thus, normal cholesterol levels now vary depending on whether cardiovascular risk factors are present, not just a constant limit as before.
The new recommendations recommend that, in the absence of cardiovascular risk factors, your doctor prescribes treatment if your LDL cholesterol level is greater than 189 mg/dL.
Although the new recommendations have changed the perception of normal cholesterol levels in adults, for children and adolescents, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute still classifies cholesterol levels as following (unit: mg/dL):

4. Symptoms of high cholesterol

Most people with high cholesterol have no symptoms, so many people don't find out until complications like a heart attack or stroke occur. Therefore, it is advisable to have your cholesterol levels checked periodically.
>> See more: Drugs to treat total cholesterol

5. What causes high cholesterol levels

Eating too many foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat increases the risk of high cholesterol. Certain lifestyle factors also contribute to high cholesterol, such as inactivity, alcohol abuse, and smoking.
Heredity also plays a certain role. If parents have high cholesterol, their children are likely to have it too. Some genetic disorders that run in families also affect cholesterol levels.
Certain other health problems, like diabetes or hypothyroidism, can also increase your risk of high cholesterol and related complications.

6. Risk factors for high cholesterol

The following people face a higher risk of high cholesterol:
Being overweight or obese. Unhealthy diet. Do not exercise regularly. Smoke. Family history of high cholesterol. Diabetes, kidney disease, or hypothyroidism.

7. Complications of high cholesterol

If left untreated, high cholesterol levels can cause atherosclerosis, narrowing of blood vessels, restricting blood flow, increasing the risk of blood clots. Many complications can occur, even life-threatening complications such as:
Stroke. Heart attack. Chest pain. Hypertension. Peripheral artery disease. Chronic kidney disease.
Tất cả những điều cần biết về Cholesterol
Biến chứng của cholesterol cao dẫn tới tăng huyết áp

8. How to prevent high cholesterol levels?

To prevent high cholesterol levels should follow a healthy diet and make lifestyle changes.
Good foods to eat are:
Good sources of protein from lean meat (chicken, fish,...). Foods high in fiber include: fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The food is prepared by baking, steaming, boiling,... instead of frying. The foods that should be limited are:
Red meat, animal organs, dairy foods containing a lot of fat. Processed foods contain cocoa butter, palm oil, and coconut oil. The fast food, fried food such as: french fries, onion rings, fried chicken,... Foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fat. Implement and maintain a healthy lifestyle:
Limit alcohol consumption. No smoking. Maintain a healthy weight. Regularly practice sports. The package of outpatient management of diabetes - dyslipidemia at Vinmec International General Hospital provides customers with a comprehensive testing process for the quantification of HDL, LDL, and Triglyceride cholesterol.... Based on the The results from which the doctor will make a diagnosis and advice to improve health.

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Article referenced source: Healthline.com

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