Did you know that high cholesterol impacts your quality of life? At this Unimed Paranaguá Health Moment, Dr. Elizandra Nasser de Almeida, a specialist in Endocrinology at Unimed Paranaguá, explains the harms of a life with high cholesterol.
What is cholesterol?
Dr. Elizandra: Cholesterol is one of the fats present in our bodies. It forms part of the makeup of many of our cells and is essential for their functioning. It also helps in the formation of hormones such as sex hormones and vitamin D.
When is cholesterol worrying?
Dr. Elizandra: Blood cholesterol circulates linked to some proteins and this differentiates cholesterol into HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol). It is excess LDL that is associated with cardiovascular disease. Excess good cholesterol (HDL), on the other hand, even protects us from these diseases. So when we measure total blood cholesterol, we always need to know what the good cholesterol is and what the bad cholesterol is. Only the bad needs to be dealt with when it’s changed.
It is also important to know if we have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. These conditions facilitate the development of atheromatous plaque and thus cause a heart attack or stroke. The older the age, the greater the risk. It is very important, then, to keep the other traditional risk factors well under control as well. In addition to LDL levels, you need to control glucose, blood pressure, stop smoking, and reduce weight when necessary.
What are the main causes of high cholesterol?
Dr. Elizandra: On average, 70% of cholesterol cases are genetically determined by an alteration in the liver’s regulation of cholesterol and 30% come from food.
This is why people who are not obese also have high cholesterol. This is because blood cholesterol levels depend more on the rate of cholesterol removal by the liver which is genetic, as I mentioned above. If you have a first-degree relative (eg, father, mother, siblings) with high cholesterol, your chance of having high cholesterol is greater.
What are the consequences of high cholesterol?
Dr. Elizandra: Excess LDL (bad cholesterol) is what’s associated with heart disease. LDL causes vascular disease because it is deposited, without symptoms, on the wall of arteries and gradually forms a plaque called atheroma. These plaques narrow the lumen of the arteries and can cause acute myocardial infarction and stroke.
When should we measure cholesterol?
Dr. Elizandra: All adults and children over 10 years of age should measure total cholesterol and fractions at least once. If elevated, an endocrinologist should be consulted to define individual cardiovascular risk and plan appropriate treatment. The longer we are exposed to excess LDL, the greater the chance of atheromatous plaques and unwanted consequences.
What are the guidelines for a regulated cholesterol and a healthier life?
Dr. Elizandra: Lifestyle is critical in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. It is important to do regular physical activity, avoid saturated fats and trans fats (present in processed foods) and stop smoking are measures to be followed. The foods that increase cholesterol the most are bacon, poultry skin, butter, cream, cream, fried foods, sausages, sausages, and excess meat.
Regarding medications, statins are the most important medications for controlling cholesterol. Proper treatment reduces mortality. To give you an idea, for every 40mg/dL of LDL cholesterol reduced, the mortality from heart attack is reduced by 20%.
And remember that cholesterol treatment focuses on prevention and is for life. The goal is to reduce that person’s cardiovascular risk. It is no use treating for a period and then abandoning the treatment, thinking of a cure. In fact, it is important to always seek control with treatment and lifestyle changes.