Weight gain and high cholesterol
When it comes to cholesterol, weight is a worry. It does not seem to be the direct cause of cholesterol but there is some connection between weight and cholesterol. One study says that in a sample of people who gained weight, the chances of high cholesterol were 15% more than those who did not gain weight.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in our blood. It is a waxy, fat-like substance present in all animal cells. It is vital for body function and not easily broken down. Once you have cholesterol, you can't get rid of it easily. We need some amount of cholesterol, but too much may cause blockage in blood vessels and lead to heart disease or stroke.
Cholesterol and weight gain
Having excess body weight can be a risk factor because it can lead to an increase in cholesterol levels. Eating a lot of saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels significantly. High cholesterol and obesity have been linked to cardiovascular conditions as well. The liver produces cholesterol, which our body needs to function properly, but certain foods also contain cholesterol so eating these foods can cause an imbalance in cholesterol levels in our body.
There are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol but a heart stroke could indicate that cholesterol levels have increased. Sometimes, people also experience fatty bumps on their skin and grey-white rings around the corneas of their eyes. To be sure about your cholesterol levels, we recommend you go for a check-up. The doctor will check your cholesterol levels by conducting a lipid profile test.
Cholesterol and heart problems
A heart attack is a serious medical condition wherein if immediate treatment is not provided to the patient, damage caused to the heart could be irreversible.
While the liver and kidneys manufacture the bulk of the cholesterol we need, food also contributes to the body’s overall cholesterol levels, albeit in smaller amounts. Our blood vessels are lined by cells that are very sensitive to changes in the bloodstream. Any fluctuation in cholesterol levels may cause these cell walls to expand or shrink, which can lead to inflammation and plaque build-up. This condition can cause the arteries to harden or bulge and cause blockages that lead to heart attacks or strokes.
As a child, you must have heard your mother asking you to avoid fatty food as it contains cholesterol, which is the reason behind all kinds of health problems.
Signs of a heart attack include:
- Tightness, squeezing, pain in the chest and arms
- Difficulty breathing
- Anxiety or a feeling of impending doom
- Nausea, indigestion, or heartburn
- Excessive fatigue
Causes of high cholesterol
Genetically inherited cholesterol is called familial hypercholesterolemia. Other factors may include, poor diet, age factor, lack of exercise, diabetes, smoking, etc.
People of any age group with a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease are prone to high cholesterol.
Cigarettes contain carbon monoxide which can increase the deposit of cholesterol within the arteries, making them hard. This makes the heart prone to heart diseases.
Excess body weight may increase LDL cholesterol and reduce HDL cholesterol.
What is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol?
Good cholesterol, also known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is helpful to the human body as it helps in the effective elimination of bad cholesterol from the body and improves the value of arterial dilation to increase blood circulation.
One of the most important functions of good cholesterol is that it carries fat and essential fatty acids from the liver to all parts of the body. It acts as a lubricant and prevents the arteries from getting clogged.
Bad cholesterol, also known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) mostly has negative effects on the human body as it builds up in the arteries and veins of the heart causing a heart attack, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and fatty liver that leads to cirrhosis.
The difference between bad cholesterol and good cholesterol is that bad cholesterol is made by the liver out of excess fats in the diet. This is not the same as good cholesterol. Both forms are transported by lipoproteins, but only the HDL is made up of protein and is usually called “good cholesterol” because it does not contribute to the hardening or narrowing of the arteries.
How to prevent high cholesterol?
Some lifestyle changes can help in preventing high cholesterol like:
- Dietary changes (following a balanced diet)
- Increasing physical activities
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing the intake of processed foods
- Reducing alcohol consumption
When to see a doctor?
If you have a family history of heart diseases, blood pressure conditions or high cholesterol, ask your doctor about when you should take a cholesterol test. Your doctor might suggest you take frequent tests to get accurate results.
High cholesterol can increase the risk of obesity and heart ailments. It can affect people of any age group.
To lead a high-cholesterol-free life, do follow a healthy lifestyle. Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating foods rich in saturated fats. Regular exercise and meditation can calm your mind. Also, try out some stress management techniques if you are suffering from stress and anxiety issues.