High cholesterol is something that many people around the world are challenged. High cholesterol is often linked with multiple cardiovascular diseases and can be fatal.

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The average world onset for cardiovascular disease to occur is 65 years, while the UAE is at 45, meaning people in the UAE are dying younger from cardiovascular disease than anyone else around the world. Apart from cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol can contribute to many other complications, which we will go through in this article.

As high cholesterol is a concerning topic especially for the residents of the UAE, in this article we will break down how high cholesterol occurs, how it can be lowered, and its associated complications.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of lipid that is naturally produced by your liver. It is a waxy, fat-like substance that plays an essential role in the formation of cell membranes and certain hormones.

As cholesterol cannot be dissolved with water, it relies on lipoproteins to transport cholesterol through the bloodstreams. Lipoproteins are particles that are made from protein and fat and are produced by the liver.

There are two major forms of lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Good vs. Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol is known for its two different types. Lowe density lipoprotein cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. 

  • LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad cholesterol. The reason being is that it carries cholesterol into the arteries and can clog it up as well as build upon the walls of the arteries. When cholesterol builds upon the walls of the arteries, this can lead to all sorts of complications. People who get cardiovascular disease are very likely to have large amounts of LDL cholesterol in their bloodstream.
  • HDL cholesterol is known as a good sort of cholesterol and is the one that you need to get more from your diet. HDL cholesterol helps to move LDL cholesterol from your arteries and bloodstream, and bring them to your liver to be removed. Healthy levels of HDL cholesterol will help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clotting and other associated complications of high cholesterol.

Complications Associated with High Cholesterol

1. Coronary Heart Disease

The main risk of high cholesterol is obviously coronary heart disease. When cholesterol levels are too high, cholesterol levels will build upon the walls of your arteries, therefore narrowing the passage of blood flow into the heart. In turn, this will open the door for a whole heap of complications to occur.

The reduction in blood flow can result in angina (chest pain), and heart attack. Heart attacks occur when blood vessels are completely blocked, cutting off the oxygen supply into the heart. 

2. Cholesterol and Stroke

Heart attacks will occur when the heart fails to receive oxygen. A stroke occurs when the blood does not receive or get enough oxygen supply. When the arteries that lead to the brain become narrowed or blocked, oxygen supply will lessen, and stroke is likely to occur. 

3. Diabetes

Diabetes can throw off the balance of HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, making it hard to control healthy levels of both. LDL cholesterol is often harder to dispose of in diabetics and build-up is relatively easy.

Glucose, a type of sugar that attaches to lipoproteins, can result in increased levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstreams, making the formations of plaque quicker.

People with diabetes also tend to have lower levels of HDL cholesterol in their bloodstream. This will increase the likeliness of heart disease in people with diabetes. 

4. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also medically known as hypertension is also often linked with high cholesterol. When the arteries and its walls have cholesterol build-up, the narrowing of these arteries makes it harder for blood to pump.

As a result, blood pressure becomes higher to pump the blood, and as a result of high blood pressure, heart diseases are commonly linked. 

5. Peripheral Vascular Disease

This disease is associated with the blood vessels outside the heart and the brain. Fatty deposits build up along the artery walls and harm blood circulation. The peripheral vascular disease mainly occurs in the arteries that lead to the legs and feet, resulting in fatigue, and tiredness during physical activity.

Lowering Cholesterol Levels

  • Cut down on saturated and trans fats
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Cut down sugar intake
  • Consume more omega-3 fatty acids
  • Exercise consistently
  • Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Get regular check-ups with the doctor

When to See a Doctor?

If you notice any irregularities in your health, speak with your doctor at first notice. Getting regular check-ups with your general practitioner is also highly recommended as high cholesterol can happen to anyone.

It also shows little to no symptoms so though you may have high cholesterol, it can go undetected. Getting regular check-ups is important as early intervention can prevent adverse effects on your health. 

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.