The term cholesterol usually brings to mind the sceptre of clogged arteries and a vague idea that it is related to fat. But despite knowing the dangers of cholesterol, most of us do not take the threat of high cholesterol seriously. In fact, there are many of us who haven’t checked their cholesterol levels even once in the past five years. According to doctors around the world, this is a habit that we should get rid of.
While the risks of high cholesterol may not be as manifest as some other diseases, it is a direct cause of cardiovascular diseases, which in turn can result in heart attacks and strokes. According to studies conducted by the World Health Organisation, almost 20% of all strokes and over 50% of all heart attacks can be linked to high cholesterol. But what exactly does it mean to have high cholesterol levels? There are essentially two main kinds of cholesterol – LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. LDL (low density lipoprotein) is the bad kind of cholesterol and its level should be kept below a level of 100mg/dL. HDL (high density lipoprotein) is what is called “good” cholesterol. HDL reduces the amount of LDL in the body and so it is good to maintain the level of HDL in the body at 60mg/dL or higher.
[Read: Tips to Lower Cholesterol]
According to Delhi based independent medical practitioner, Dr. Arpanaa Kumar, “It is LDL that contributes to the clogging of your arteries and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.” If there is too much cholesterol it gets deposited on the walls of arteries causing the formation of a hard, thick substance called cholesterol plaque. Over time, cholesterol plaque causes thickening of the artery walls and narrowing of the arteries.
Since cholesterol levels are not indicated by any symptoms, many people tend to ignore it until it manifests as cardiovascular trouble. This is easily avoidable. Dr. Kumar advises that people in their 20s and 30s should develop awareness about their cholesterol levels and get it checked at least once every five years. It is easy to control cholesterol with slight changes in diet and a few medications under the supervision of your doctor.
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