Although it may seem strange, cholesterol is a normal substance that we all have in our bodies. It is produced in order to help our organism create many hormones and vitamins, such as the vitamin D. However, our body needs only a small amount of cholesterol which means that the excess amount of it could accumulate in our blood vessels and obstruct our blood flow. Bad cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in our blood, which is why we need HDL to transport it back to the kidneys that will take care of it. When the ratio of bad and good cholesterol is disturbed, LDL builds up in our vessels and creates plaque along with calcium, which altogether leads to the hardening and narrowing of arteries. This condition is called atherosclerosis and its outcome could be fatal.
Since cardiovascular diseases are not very recognizable at the earliest stages, we sometimes have to rely on some other indicators that may tell us to go and visit our doctor immediately. Some of the signs usually suggest that a certain condition caused by atherosclerosis has already progressed, but their timely treatment can prevent mortal results.
LIPID PROFILES ARE THE BEST PHYSICAL EVIDENCE OF HIGH CHOLESTEROL
The safest way to recognize high cholesterol is to have yourself tested even if you’re feeling fine. A simple blood test every 4 years can help you notice the signs of atherosclerosis when the disease is still not fully developed. The test is sometimes called ‘’a lipid profile.’’ Before you do the test you have to fast for 12 hours in order to make sure that the food you eat doesn’t interfere with the results. The results will show the incidence of 4 types of lipids: total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein or the bad cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein or the good cholesterol and triglycerides. If the total amount of cholesterol is greater than 240 mg/dl, it is deemed really high. When it comes to respective lipids, HDL is recommended to be at the level of 60 mg/dl or higher because this will protect you from heart diseases. Anywhere between 40 and 59 mg/dl of HDL is acceptable but lower numbers put you at a greater risk of a heart disease. As for the LDL, its optimal levels are estimated between 100 and 129 mg/dl. The high borderline for the bad cholesterol is between 130 and 159 mg/dl and everything above that is considered high or very high. If your triglycerides are anything above 150 mg/dl, it is also considered as a risk factor for getting a heart disease. The acceptable level of LDL depends on the probability that you’ll have a cardiovascular disease. People with increased chances of getting a heart disease are advised to lower their LDL to 100 mg/dl or even 70 mg/dl. These people are the ones that have fed on high-fat diets and don’t exercise regularly. People who are at a lower risk of getting a heart attack or a stroke can tolerate up to 160 mg/dl of LDL.
HOW TO NOTICE EARLY SIGNS OF CONDITIONS THAT ARE CAUSED BY HIGH CHOLESTEROL
CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE
The symptoms of a coronary heart disease are different between men and women but there are some signs that are common to both sexes. Angina pectoris, or chest pain, is usually the first sign of a coronary heart disease. It is also described by heaviness or pressure in the chest and can be mistaken for heartburn. Other symptoms include dizziness, vomiting, weakness, and anxiety. People experiencing a coronary heart disease also suffer from irregular heart beating, cold sweating, and hard breathing. If any of the symptoms lasts for more than 5 minutes, seek medical assistance right away.
Strokes usually initiate when a piece of plaque breaks off and cuts away the blood flow to your brain. Depending on which part of your brain is affected, the symptoms may vary, but they are usually easily noticed because they’re sudden. A severe headache, confusion or slurring words are the first warning signs of a stroke. You could also experience abrupt loss of ability to move in one part of the body. You should also pay attention to your face because the dropping eyelid or mouth on one side of the face can also indicate that you’re experiencing a possibly fatal disease. The rest of the alarming signs include suddenly impaired vision and numbness in one part of the body.
When blood can’t reach the heart, it is deprived of oxygen that is essential for its functioning. As a result, the heart dies off and this is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction. The signs include dizziness, nausea, anxiety, fatigue, heavy breathing and chest pain. This medical emergency calls for an immediate reaction because, if it is not treated within first few hours, it could be lethal.
PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE
Peripheral arterial disease hinders blood supply to kidneys, stomach, legs and arms. First symptoms of the disease include cramping, achiness, and discomfort in your arms and legs, but as the condition progresses, you can feel some symptoms even when you are motionless. The signs include toes that turn blue, thick toenails, burning in toes, reduced leg hair growth, coldness in your legs, gangrene, paleness of the skin on your legs, ulcers and cramps and pain in the legs that won’t go away even when you relax.
BLOOD TEST KITS FOR HOME CHECK-UPS
Blood tests kits are used by people who are doubtful about their cholesterol levels either because they’re obese, get tired too quickly during physical activities or are acquainted with the family history of cardiovascular diseases, but are short on time to visit a doctor. The kits are priced at 20 dollars the most and involve a lancet and test strips. Prick your finger with a lancet and put a drop of blood on a strip. It will change the color after 5 minutes when you can take a look at the guide that comes with the kit and see what the color of the strip tells about your cholesterol. There is electronic cholesterol measuring home kits that function the same way as the diabetes blood glucose meter but are often used by people who control their cholesterol level more frequently. Although the test-kits’ makers take pride in the accuracy of 95 percent, you should not delay paying a visit to your doctor. After all, cholesterol level is not the only measure for the cardiovascular-disease risk. Along with it, your doctor will check your family history, weight and will also take your race into consideration. Once he/she puts all the pieces together, you’ll know the amount of risk you’re at and will be able to discuss a proper treatment with your medical provider.
WHICH OF THE SIGNS SHOULD YOU RELY ON THE MOST?
Prevention is absolutely the best medication! It would be the best that you don’t put yourself in a situation in which you’ll have to bother going to the doctor and bite your nails with anxiousness until you get the results of a blood test. This is possible if you follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly and stress yourself less. However, the imminent evolution of human race is accompanied by a change in our lifestyles that makes it impossible to always exclude the three factors from our everyday routine. Therefore, taking lipid profile tests every 4-6 years will alleviate the damage to the lowest minimum possible and prevent any further ailments that are even more bothersome than a simple, pre-emptive blood test. Finally, educate yourself about early signs of most deadly cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, coronary heart disease, heart attack and peripheral arterial disease so that you can react within the first few hours and avoid death.