High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol refers to there being an imbalance of good and bad cholesterol, with the scales weighed down by the latter. This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain and the rest of your body.
It also increases the risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in your body, said the NHS.
The health body added: “Your risk of developing coronary heart disease also rises as your blood’s cholesterol level increases.
“This can cause pain in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity (angina).”
What causes high cholesterol
An unhealthy diet – in particular, eating high levels of saturated fat
Smoking – a chemical called acrolin, found in cigarettes, stops HDL transporting cholesterol from fatty deposits to the liver, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
Having diabetes or high blood pressure
Having a family history of stroke or heart disease
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A high level of cholesterol in the blood doesn’t have obvious symptoms, but it can increase your risk for conditions that do have symptoms, including angina caused by heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and other circulatory ailments.
If you detect soft, yellowish skin growths on yourself or on your children, ask about being tested for high cholesterol.
You should also contact your doctor if you develop symptoms of heart disease, stroke, or atherosclerosis in other blood vessels, such as left-sided chest pain, pressure, or fullness; dizziness; unsteady gait; slurred speech; or pain in the lower legs.
Any of these conditions may be associated with high cholesterol, and each requires immediate medical intervention.
Bad cholesterol can build up on the walls of the blood vessels.
This build-up of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is called “plaque”, which hardens over time, making the insides of the vessels narrow.
As a result, the blood flow to the heart can be restricted, which can lead to heart disease.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Dietician Helen Bond said: “Cholesterol can change quite quickly, which is why exercise and eating healthy should be embedded into your everyday routine.
“But we’re talking a few weeks, rather than days – the odd meal or day where you eat a bit more than usual (including too much saturated fat) won’t make a difference to your cholesterol levels in the long run, but if your healthy eating and exercise habits have totally gone out the window during the lockdown, this could have a big impact on your cholesterol levels and your weight.
“Therefore, if your habits have changed over lockdown, now’s the time to reinstate healthy eating habits and get daily exercise (within UK Government guidelines to stay active and stay safe) before those new overindulgences become a habit that’s hard to break.”
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