Cholesterol Is Bad...Or Is It?
According to WHO the number of years of life lost on account of common heart health risk factors is the following:
- 12.4 years due to the excess of “bad” cholesterol
- 8.9 years due to excess weight
The generally accepted blood cholesterol level norm is below 200 mg/dL. However, everything is not as simple as “the less, the better”.
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Unsplash
In fact, cholesterol has several very important functions in the human body. First of all, it is used to build membranes around cells. It is also critical for production of bile essential for digestions, and reproductive hormones. Since cholesterol is used in secretion of the most important female and male hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), its lack can lead to lower potency in men, and disrupted menstrual cycle, as well as an increased risk of infertility. What’s more, insufficient amount of cholesterol may cause wrinkles at a younger age, since this substance is a building block for cell membranes.
There are actually two types of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is what we usually call “bad” cholesterol. It is mainly produced in the liver and travels along blood vessels to other organs. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is “good” cholesterol responsible for transporting the excess of the “bad” one to the liver. It is when the balance between these two is upset that atherosclerosis starts to develop.
As people age, their risk of developing cholesterol imbalance increases, in which case the level of LDL obviously needs to be lowered. The problem is, however, that statins, a group of medications most commonly used for lowering blood cholesterol level, suppress the production of both types of lipoprotein. This is why the latest approach is to combine statins with medications that increase HDL level.
Any cardiologist will tell you that after you’ve reached the age of 40 it is absolutely essential to start monitoring the state of your heart and vessels. There are at least three good reasons why you should get screened and do a cholesterol blood test.
- Identifying the culprit
Obesity is a significant cardiovascular risk factor. 10-20 extra pounds lead to an increase in the overall cholesterol level. It’s important to understand, however, that the levels of “good” and “bad” cholesterol are highly likely to imbalance, meaning that there is going to be more LDL, a greater risk of plaque build-up and an increased chance of having a heart attack or a stroke.
Note that the higher the LDL level and the lower the HDL level, the more significant the risk of coronary heart disease. DO get your blood tested for cholesterol.
- Knowing that your heart needs a check-up
If your LDL level is too high, you need to see a cardiologist. Your arteries may be clogged and your heart might be working towards its limits trying to supply all the systems with blood and oxygen. This increases the risk of developing arrhythmia, bradycardia and tachycardia.
- Modifying your diet
Your physician will recommend ways to adjust your lifestyle to your health needs. You will be advised to reduce your intake of salt, sugar and fat, as well as walk more (at least 30-40 minutes a day of uninterrupted strolling).
Check Your Weight
The easiest way to figure out whether your weight is within a healthy range is to measure your body mass index (BMI). Simply divide your weight by the square of your height. Here is what different BMIs mean:
- under 18.5 kg/m2 - underweight
- 18.5 - 24.9 kg/m2 - normal weight
- 25 - 29.9 - overweight (the risk of heart disease is moderate)
- 30 - 39.9 kg/m2 - obese (high risk of developing obesity-induced heart disease)
What We Can Do to Help You
In order to keep your heart in check and to be aware of any abnormalities in its functioning, all you need to do is to put on your favorite or newly-purchased tracker and sign in to our application.
Once you are registered in the system and your individual physical data are taken for further calculation of rates that will represent YOUR PERSONAL NORM, the application will continuously monitor further dynamics of changes. In our next release, we will send you notifications informing you of any deviations from your personal rate!
By the way, we’ve already calculated your BMI!