Signs of High Cholesterol

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Signs of High Cholesterol
Signs of High Cholesterol (Image: Image by Miqueias at sxc.hu)

Cholesterol is a natural substance in the human body. However, some people have too much cholesterol and find themselves at risk for health problems. As such, it's a good idea to learn the potential signs of high cholesterol.

Identification

Cholesterol is a substance that is similar to fat and has a waxy sort of appearance. The human body needs it for proper functioning, and it can be found in the walls of cells and cell membranes as well as in major organs, such as the brain, and in the muscles, including the heart. Your body only needs a small amount of cholesterol for proper functioning.

Potential Problems

When the body has too much cholesterol in the blood, it may begin to create deposits in the arteries. For example, a person with high cholesterol may develop deposits of the substance in the heart arteries. When this happens, the arteries become narrowed and blocked, and a person may begin to develop heart disease.

Symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are no symptoms that indicate high cholesterol. This means a person's health may be at risk because of elevated cholesterol levels and he may not even know it. The only way to find out whether or not your cholesterol is too high is to have a blood test.

Testing

According to eMedicineHealth, a person should begin having cholesterol tests by age 20. After that age, a person should have blood tests for cholesterol every 5 years. A commonly used blood test for testing cholesterol is called a liberal protein profile, which is done after a person has fasted for 9 to 12 hours. It provides information regarding the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, the level of bad cholesterol (LDL), the level of good cholesterol (HDL) and the amount of triglycerides, which are fats that move through the blood.

Levels

According to eMedicineHealth, a cholesterol level of 100 mg/dl or less is considered the best for optimum health. A person with a level between 100 to 129 mg/dl would still be considered within the good range. Borderline level for high cholesterol is considered 132 to 159 mg/dl. A person with 160 mg/dl has high cholesterol, and anything above 189 mg/dl is considered extremely high.

Effects

When high cholesterol goes unchecked, it can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis. This condition is marked by cholesterol that adheres to the walls of the arteries. Referred to as plaques, these cholesterol accumulations impair the flow of blood to a person's arteries, which may lead to chest pain and other symptoms of heart disease, such as irregular heartbeat, dizziness, pressure in the chest and shortness of breath. It is very important to seek medical care in such a situation, as heart disease can be deadly.

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