Background Information and the Role in Your Body
It's actually a critical part of your body’s foundation building materials.
And is essential for optimal health.
It’s so important that your body produces it both in your liver and in your brain.
It's also the raw material for all your steroid hormones and vitamin-D.
Think about this for a second.Your neurons are making it for a reason.
It's used to make the building blocks of the body (cells) and hormones.Hormones are chemical messengers that help the body's cells communicate.
The liver makes about 80% of the body's total, and the rest comes from our diet.Many foods contain small amounts, but most in our diet comes from saturated fats.
That's why it's important to look not only at the levels in foods, but also at how much saturated fat they contain.
There are several different types.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein): LDL is also known as the "bad type."
When there is too much LDL in the blood, it builds up on the inside of the blood vessel walls.
Making it more difficult for blood to flow.
This increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein): HDL is also known as the "good type."
HDL helps clear LDL away from blood vessel walls, decreasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein): VLDL made in the liver and changed into LDL in the blood.
TC (total-cholesterol) refers to the total amount of LDL, HDL, and VLDL added together.
Triglycerides (TG) are not by any means the same thing.
They're another type of fat often found in the body.
TG are tested at the same time as cholesterol.
TG make the blood more likely to clot.
This can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
TG can also lower the levels of HDL.
How High is Too High?
High (HC) is defined differently in people of different ages.
For people over 30 years of age, HC is defined as a total level higher than 5.2 mmol/L (200 mg/dL in American units*).
For people under 30, HC is defined as a total level greater than 4.7 mmol/L.
The medical names for HC are "hypercholesterolemia" or "hyperlipidemia."
BUT, this doesn't tell the whole story.
When you're tested, your doctor will look at total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and the ratio of total to HDL.
This ratio is a better measure of your risk of heart disease than total cholesterol is.
Your doctor will also look at your risk of heart disease when deciding what levels are right for you.
And what the treatment plan should be.*To convert from Canadian units to American.
Multiply Canadian values by 38.7 to get American values.
To convert the other way, divide the American units by 38.7 to get the Canadian values.
How Common is High Cholesterol (HC)?
HC is very common.
It's estimated that about 48% of Canadian men and 43% of Canadian women are in this category.
Signs, Symptoms, and Complications
HC is usually a "silent disease."
It does not cause any signs and symptoms that you can feel.
A lab test is the main way to detect this "silent disease."
The main complication of HC is atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is narrowing of and damage to blood vessels.
It can lead to heart attacks, strokes, angina (chest pain), and circulation problems.
What are the Risk Factors?As mentioned, some comes from your diet, but about 80% is made in the liver.
This means that diet and lifestyle are not the only things causing HC.Genetic factors and your liver function can also affect these levels.
HC is an important risk factor for heart disease.Risk factors for heart disease are often separated into things that can be modified.
And things that cannot.Things That Can:
~ high cholesterol,~ high blood pressure,
~ sedentary lifestyle (not enough exercise),~ obesity (being overweight),
~ smoking,~ consuming too much alcohol (more than two drinks per day for men, and more than one drink per day for women),
~ stress,~ diabetes.
Things That Cannot:
~ Age and gender.
Women older than 55 years and men older than 45 years are at higher risk.
People of African, South Asian, and First Nations descent are at higher risk.~ Family history.
People who have family members who have had strokes or heart attacks before age 65.
Have or have had angina, or are prone to developing high blood pressure are at higher risk.Level of Risk
After you've had your level tested, your doctor may calculate your heart disease risk.This will help your doctor decide what treatment plan and what target levels are best for you.
Heart disease risk is rated as low, moderate, or high.Your risk group tells you how likely you are to get heart disease in the next 10 years.
It also tells you what your treatment targets should be.Who & How Often?
The latest Canadian guidelines recommend testing for:~ men over 40 years of age,
~ women over 50 years of age,~ postmenopausal women (of any age),
~ people with diabetes,~ people who are overweight,
~ smokers,~ people who have high blood pressure,
~ those with a strong family history of heart disease at an early age,
~ people with physical signs of HC.
Such as yellow lesions under the skin.Or a grey ring around the cornea (the transparent layer that covers the eye),
~ people with atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of the arteries).Even if you're not in one of these groups, your doctor may decide to test your levels if he or she feels it's needed.
Your doctor will recommend a testing schedule depending on your age.Your general health, and whether you are taking medications to lower your cholesterol.
Most people with normal levels are re-tested every five years.In some cases, your doctor may decide to test more often.
Your doctor will usually test you 6 weeks after you start a new medication or change the dose.After you reach the right dose, further tests are every 6 to 12 months.
Target LevelsA test, called a "lipid profile," measures more than the total amount in your blood.
Items Measured in a TestLDL (low-density lipoprotein) LDL-C LDL is the "bad" stuff that clogs your arteries.
And increases the risk of heart disease.HDL (high-density lipoprotein) HDL-C HDL is the "good" stuff.
Which clears LDL out of your arteries.TG (triglycerides) --- TG are a non-cholesterol type of fat.
TG increase the risk of heart disease by making the blood more likely to clot.TG can also lower the levels of HDL.
TC (total-cholesterol) --- TC is a measure of the total amount of LDL, HDL, and VLDL.TC: HDL-C ratio TC:HDL-C ratio.
This is the ratio of TC to HDL.It's a number calculated by dividing the total by HDL-cholesterol (TC / HDL-C).
This ratio is a better measure of heart disease risk than is total HC levels.What Should Your Target Levels Be?
Well, your target levels depend on your level of heart disease risk.Your doctor can calculate this risk based on your age, gender, your HC levels, and general health.
The two most important targets are LDL-C and TC:HDL-C ratio.Targets by heart disease risk group
Risk group 10-year risk of heart disease Target LDL-C (mmol/L)Total cholesterol: HDL-C ratio
Low risk 10% or less less than 4.5 AND less than 6.0Moderate risk 11-19% less than 3.5 AND less than 5.0
High 20% or greater less than 2.5 AND less than 4.0
Although triglycerides are measured in a cholesterol test.
The Canadian guidelines no longer recommend a treatment target for them.
But a triglyceride level of 10.0 mmol/L or more should be treated .
Because it increases the risk of a health condition called "pancreatitis." (inflammation of the pancreas)
The ideal level for triglycerides is 1.7 mmol/L.
The new Canadian Guidelines have lower targets than before.
These targets may be hard to reach, especially for people in the high-risk group.
These people may need to use more than one medication.
And make lifestyle changes, to reach their targets.
It's important to know your levels. (including the TC/HDL ratio) And whether your treatment is reducing them to target levels.
The good news is that with careful treatment.
Testing, and medication adjustments when necessary.
You can reach your target levels.
Controlling High Cholesterol (HC) Levels
Why control HC levels?
Why is it so important to reach your target levels?
Because it lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke.For every 1% decrease in cholesterol levels, there is a 2% decrease in the risk of heart disease.
So what’s the connection between cholesterol and heart disease?If your body needs so much of it, what causes it to clog your arteries?
The devil is in the details, as they say.
And this is definitely true.
Because the cholesterol found in arterial plaque is not just any kind.
But oxidized, damaged cholesterol.There is an excellent research on animals.
Where they fed animals plenty of cholesterol in their diet and they did fine.But when they gave them even small amounts that were tainted. Meaning oxidized cholesterol.
Within weeks it showed up in fatty streaks in their arteries.We know why now.
There are receptors in the endothelial cells that are the lining of your arteries.There are receptors there for oxidized cholesterol.
It picks it up, and it goes into the endothelial cells.The problem is that when oxidized, it doesn't look native to your macrophages.
Your immune system.It actually looks like bacteria.
The macrophages move in to try and clean up what it thinks is bacteria.
Which is nothing more than oxidized cholesterol.
And it creates a whole bunch of inflammation inside your arterial wall.The real culprit is oxidized cholesterol.
Where Does Oxidization Come From?It's actually introduced into your system.
Every time you eat something cooked in vegetable oil.As soon as the oil is heated and mixes with oxygen, it goes rancid.
Rancid oil is oxidized oil, and should not be injested.This is why we suggest avoiding all vegetable cooking oils.
Such as canola, corn, or soy oil, and replacing them with organic coconut oil.
Which remains stable and doesn't oxidize at higher temperatures.We urge people to eat more raw uncooked foods.
Because heat is damaging the oils.
Which in turn is going to damage the cholesterol and lead to vascular disease problem.Another reason for avoiding vegetable cooking oils.
The majority of them (at least in the US) are from genetically engineered crops.
Plus they’re heavily processed on top of that.So not only do you have the issue of the polyunsaturated fats being oxidized.
You also have other toxic variables.
Such as glyphosate and Bt toxin found in genetically engineered corn and soy.Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup.
Used in very large amounts on all these crops.So there are many reasons for avoiding vegetable oils.
But the fact that they’re oxidized is a high-priority one.Goals of Treatment
If you have HC, the goal of treatment is to reach your target levels for LDL-C and TC:HDL-C ratio.Your targets depend on your level of heart disease risk.
Your doctor will calculate your heart disease risk level.
Based on your cholesterol levels, age, gender and blood pressure. Whether you smoke or not, and whether you have diabetes or not.If you are being treated for high TG, your doctor will choose an appropriate target value.
Lifestyle ChangesLifestyle changes are an important part of cholesterol control.
For some people, lifestyle changes alone are enough to keep it at a healthy level.Others will need medications plus lifestyle changes.
Even if you are taking medications, remember that lifestyle changes are still important.Think of your medication as part of a heart-healthy program. Involving diet and exercise.
Healthy Body WeightThe new Canadian Cholesterol Guidelines recommend.
Maintaining a healthy body weight to control this "silent disease."You can tell if you are at a healthy weight by calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index).
The Canadian Guidelines recommend keeping your BMI under 25.Health Canada considers a healthy BMI to be between 18.5 and 24.9.
The best way to maintain a healthy weight is by eating a healthy diet and exercising.Diet and Nutrition
By eating a healthier diet.
You can improve your cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.Here are Some Tips:
~ Eat lower-fat foods.~ Replace harmful fats with healthier fats.
~ Saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol are the harmful fats.~ Healthier fats include poly- and mono-unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
~ Choose low-fat dairy products and lean meats.
As they have less fat, and are lower in saturated fats as well.~ When cooking, use oils with healthy fats.
Such as olive, sunflower, safflower, corn and the newest kid on the block, macadamia oil.Eat More Vegetables & Fruits.
"Aim" for 5 to 10 servings per day.Increase the amount of soluble fiber in your diet.
Foods such as oat bran, oatmeal, high-fiber cereals, legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils).
And fruits high in pectin (such as strawberries, oranges, apples, and grapefruit).Are good sources of soluble fiber.
Do eat fewer sweets, such as cookies and cakes.
Talk to your doctor or dietitian about establishing healthy habits.And even about how many calories you should take in each day to maintain a healthy weight.
When eating out in a restaurant try to select "Heart Healthy" choices if possible.This includes dishes steamed, baked, or roasted.
Avoid foods fried, deep-fried, or breaded.Also, avoid foods with creamy sauces.
Ask for low-fat dressings or sauces, and get them on the side.Don't be afraid to ask how something is prepared or to make a special request.
And beware of portion sizes.Many restaurants serve more food than any of us need for a single meal.
Don't feel that you must eat everything put in front of you.Ask for a smaller portion size, share with a friend, or plan to take the leftovers home for the next day.
Making these changes in your diet can be tough.We know, but...
...the key is to do "everything in moderation."Enjoy the occasional sweet or fatty food, just don't make it a habit.
*** Recent information that could be of significant interest to you, should be read here;Cinnamon ~ Lower Cholesterol & Triglycerides
And always, talk to your doctor and/or dietitian about which diet changes are right for you.Exercise
Regular exercise will help you lose weight and keep this ailment under control.Here are some exercise tips:
Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week (at least 3 to 5 days per week).Aerobic exercise is exercise that increases your heart rate.
Such as swimming, walking, jogging, or cycling.If you're having trouble getting motivated.
Arrange to exercise with a friend or join a group class.Choose exercise activities that you will enjoy.
You should be comfortable and able to talk while exercising.If you feel dizzy, weak, or short of breath, or if you're in pain, stop.
There are other simple ways to increase your level of physical activity.Try taking the stairs or parking your car further away than usual.
Gardening, yard work, and other household chores can also give you some exercise.
Be sure to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Especially if you have heart disease or are taking any medications.
Start by setting goals that you can achieve.
And then challenging yourself as you become more fit.Stop Smoking
Smoking can increase triglycerides and lower HDL-C.Smokers have a 70% higher risk of heart disease than non-smokers.
Here are some tips on quitting smoking:The benefits of quitting start in the first 24 hours after your last cigarette.
There are many ways to quit smoking.
Including nicotine replacement patches or support programs.
And going "cold turkey or even laser treatment which has worked for me."Each person is unique and needs to find the way that works best for them.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what is right for you.If you have already tried to quit and failed, don't worry!
It usually takes many tries before you can quit for good.And each time you try, you get closer to your goal.
Moderate Alcohol IntakeToo much alcohol can increase your TG levels and your blood pressure.
Here are some tips on keeping your alcohol consumption at a heart-healthy level:If you're a man, do not have more than two drinks per day.
If you're a woman, don't have more than one drink per day.And keep in mind that one drink is equal to:
160 mL (12 oz) of beer - about one beer, OR150 mL (5 oz) of wine - about one small glass of wine, OR
45 mL (1.5 oz) of 40% (80-proof) spirits (hard liquor) - about one shot.Avoid situations that pressure you into drinking too much.
Get support from your family and friends, and tell them you are trying to cut back on drinking.If you're concerned about how much you're drinking, talk to your doctor. Tweet
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