High cholesterol levels are a serious health risk. But the more disturbing aspect of the health issue: The average adult American has “borderline high” cholesterol levels while 1 in 6 already have high cholesterol levels. There is, indeed, reason to be concerned because the higher the cholesterol levels, the higher the risks of heart and blood vessel diseases.
Sources of the Natural Substance
Lest anybody thinks that cholesterol is a substance derived from outside sources, think again. The body naturally produces cholesterol, a waxy, fat-like substance with many essential functions in all of the body’s cells and it travels throughout the body with the blood as its carrier. The body also gets cholesterol from food sources including eggs, meats and dairy products.
Note: Cholesterol is actually part of the cell membranes. It is also important in the production of estrogen, testosterone, and Vitamin D.
Suffice it to say that cholesterol is an essential part of the body’s normal functions. The trouble starts when your body has more cholesterol than it needs because the waxy, fat-like substance builds up plaques in your arteries.
High Risks for Health Dangers
Over time, this thick, hard plaque clogs your arteries; think of a blocked pipe with the grease, oil and other residues from fatty food and you get the idea. The result” Reduced blood flow to the heart and brains, thus, increasing the risks for a heart attack and a stroke.
In a heart attack, the clogged coronary artery means that your heart gets too little blood and, thus, too little nutrients and oxygen. Without sufficient oxygen in it, your heart slowly yet surely becomes weak with its muscles damaged.
If a plaque inside the coronary artery breaks open, a blood clot can form on top of the existing plaque and, hence, further blockage occurs. If a blood clot breaks off from the coronary artery, it can flow to another part of your body.
When a clot completely blocks off a coronary artery, you will have a heart attack. Think of it as a ticking time bomb with your life as the possible casualty.
In a stroke, a similar process happens. Plaque buildup in the blood vessels of your brain prevents the organ from getting sufficient blood and oxygen. You can suffer a stroke when a clot completely blocks off a blood vessel feeding your brain.
Both a heart attack and a stroke can be fatal – these are two of the top killers in the United States and in the rest of the world. Fortunately, both can be treated with a combination of medications, diet and exercise, and medical supervision when caught early, so to speak.
No Observable Symptoms
Yet another disturbing aspect of high cholesterol is its lack of observable symptoms. You will be clueless that you have high cholesterol levels until you get yourself tested because there are no symptoms and no pain involved. You are then less likely to seek medical treatment and to adopt lifestyle measures, such as losing excess weight.
Keep in mind that the health risks from high cholesterol are not immediately observable. The damage to your heart accumulates over the years such that high cholesterol levels in your 20s will only take their toll in your 50s.
Practical Protection Measures
You must then take the necessary action to protect yourself against the effects of high cholesterol levels. Seek your doctor’s medical opinion and then adopt these doctor-recommended measures:
• Make healthier choices in food, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
• Get sufficient hours of sleep.
• Manage your stress levels.
Ultimately, you should take responsibility for your own health and it starts with working toward healthier cholesterol levels.