What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an essential structural component of all animal cell membranes, a steroid or lipid molecule which is synthesized by the liver cells. Cholesterols helps our body to synthesize vitamin D and hormones.
One of the vital components your body needs from the foods you eat is cholesterol. Cholesterols are transported round the body in lipoprotein forms and there are 2 different kinds of lipoproteins namely: Low density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad cholesterol’, high density lipoprotein (HDL) or ‘good cholesterol’ and triglycerides (these are also bad cholesterol commonly found in foods such as dairy products, cooking oils and red meats).
According to the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse, more than 80 percent of gallstones are cholesterol stones.
What is high cholesterol?
High cholesterol means you have more than necessary cholesterol in your blood.
Several factors needs to be taken into consideration, but before that what is considered high cholesterol?
High cholesterol foods are usually not good for the body as they can have an adverse effect on the body. How high cholesterol your body should have depends largely on your body weight as well as several other factors. Your total cholesterol assay with the following values- low density lipoprotein (LDL) <=2mmol/L, high density lipoprotein (HDL) >=1mmol/L and triglycerides <=1.7mmol/L are safe limits. A slight deviation from these figures may trigger several diseases and symptoms. One of the symptoms of high cholesterol you first notice is usually chest pain.
There several conditions that can predispose anyone to having high cholesterol in their body, conditions and lifestyles such as Familial Hypercholesteolaemia (this may cause you to have exceptionally high cholesterol in your body despite having healthy living), alcoholism, smoking, eating too much dietary fatty and sugary foods. High cholesterol symptoms may not be evident on most occasion except when it starts forming plaques on the arterial wall.
Some of the signs of high cholesterol are the following:
- Build of plaque within the arterial wall. This is often caused by a low amount of HDL and too much of LDL. This makes deposit of cholesterol on the walls of the artery.
- Gall stones may be formed from high cholesterol deposits in the gall bladder.
- Impediment of free flow of blood to body organs. It may lead to coronary heart diseases and myocardial infarction.
- Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) may also form due to buildup of plaques which breaks due to force and narrowing of the arterial wall. This may lead to other conditions such as fainting spell when the brain is affected.
Symptoms of high cholesterol if the underlying causes are not treated
High cholesterol may lead to dire consequences if the underlying causes are not treated.
The following high cholesterol symptoms usually calls for concern as they can be life-threatening. Here are the symptoms:
- Angina pectoris: This refers to a sharp pain felt on the chest when lifting heavy objects. This occurs via infarction of heart muscles due to shortage in the supply of adequate oxygen. This may lead to congestive heart failure if it is not treated promptly.
- Gangarene also referred to as tissue death due to lack of blood supply to a tissue for a long period of time.
- Heart attack and chest discomfort.
Other areas of the body high cholesterol plaques may pose dire consequences such as the gall bladder, the liver and gastric cavity among others.
Other symptoms of high cholesterol
The following high cholesterol symptoms may present in the aforementioned organs
- Abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting coupled with bloody stools (This may arise due to intestinal ischemic syndrome).
- Buildup of fluid (Ascites) within the gastric cavity due to blockage of the bile duct.
- Jaw pain.
- Numbness and pain in the lower limb.