How Should I Manage My Hereditary High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is often associated with older people. However, people who are under the age of 55 can also have cholesterol issues. Most people do not even pay much heed to issues related to high cholesterol levels as they think they are healthy and fit or until it starts to hit them in the form of stroke or heart attack. High cholesterol levels do not show any symptoms that’s why people think they are immune to it but it could be hereditary or developed over time.

Is It Possible To Lower Hereditary Cholesterol?

Hereditary high cholesterol is also familial hypercholesterolemia or FH. This is a hereditary cholesterol disorder in which it becomes tough for your body to remove LDL or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from the blood. It develops since your childhood and narrows the passageways. Due to this disorder, you have a high risk of stroke or heart at an early stage of life.

How Should I Manage My Hereditary High Cholesterol

What Are The Causes Of High Cholesterol?

There are two types of cholesterol, the good and bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol is essential for your body whereas bad cholesterol can lead to harmful diseases. Cholesterol is present in almost everything from food to medications, etc. High cholesterol levels can put your body at high risk. Here is the list of things that can cause high cholesterol.

  1. Stress- Chronic stress can increase your bad cholesterol levels and decrease good cholesterol levels. This happens because stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol cause inflammation and high blood sugar. This can take the shape of high cholesterol levels over a period of time.
  2. Medicines- There are certain medications that can affect your cholesterol levels such as retinoids, birth control pills, antivirals, corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, etc.
  3. Unfiltered coffee- Unfiltered coffee such as espresso or any other type can land you in trouble. As the name suggests, these coffees are prepared without using any filter and oily elements like diterpenes can be found in your cup. These oily elements can raise your bad cholesterol levels. It is okay to have one or two unfiltered coffee once in a while but too much of it can lead to dangerous issues.
  4. Thyroid- Thyroid hormones help your body get rid of the extra cholesterol. If you have hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid, there is a higher risk of increased LDL or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in your body. In order to check, if you have hypothyroidism or not you should take a blood test or lookout for symptoms such as dry skin, muscle weakness, fatigue etc.
  5. Type 2 diabetes- everyone knows what type 2 diabetes is and how it causes high blood sugar levels. An increase in sugar levels in your body can increase the risk of cholesterol molecules which makes it more harmful.
  6. Menopause- Yes, menopause could be one of the reasons for your high level of cholesterol. Sex hormone named estrogen decreases after your menopause and increases bad cholesterol levels. In addition to that, women tend to gain an average of 5 kg after the last period and stop exercising which leads to an increasingly high level of cholesterol.
  7. Too much sitting- Sitting for hours could lead to obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease. It leads to high cholesterol levels because it increases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. You should always take a 5-minute walk every hour if possible or at least stand up every 30 minutes to protect your heart.
  8. Alcohol- According to experts, too much consumption of alcohol can also lead to a rise in bad cholesterol and hence high levels of cholesterol.
  9. Pregnancy- Cholesterol levels help the foetus to grow during your pregnancy. This is why there is a higher chance that your cholesterol levels can increase to up to 50% in your second or third trimester. This cholesterol is temporary but it can lead to if you already have high cholesterol levels.
  10. Kidney problems- Your kidney problems can also decide the levels of your cholesterol. A kidney disorder named nephrotic syndrome is associated with an increase in LDL or low-density lipoprotein and has the potential to affect your overall cholesterol levels.
  11. Sugar- Too much sugar is definitely a no as it affects your body in various ways. One of the ways in which it can affect your body is by increasing cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.
  12. Liver issues- liver is responsible for making, processing and breaking down cholesterol.  It could lead to issues related to cholesterol if it doesn’t work properly.

Complications Of Hereditary High Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels are associated with various diseases. You can develop the following complications if you have a higher level of cholesterol than usual-

  • It can lead to coronary heart disease.
  • It can lead to stroke and heart attacks.
  • It can lead to peripheral arterial disease.
  • It can lead to kidney problems.
  • It can lead to atherosclerosis.

How To Diagnose High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol levels do not show any symptoms and thus it becomes hard to know if you have high levels of cholesterol on your own. However, the following are the ways in which you can diagnose high cholesterol levels in your body by visiting your doctor-

Blood test- high cholesterol levels can be diagnosed by a simple blood test known as lipoprotein profile. The test evaluates LDL or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol for bad cholesterol, good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, Triglycerides, as well as overall cholesterol level.

How To Diagnose High Cholesterol- Blood test

Physical exam- another way to diagnose high cholesterol levels is through physical examination. In this method, your doctor tries to find out your medical history, listen to your heartbeat, check your heart rate, and examine your blood pressure levels.

How To Diagnose High Cholesterol- Physical exam
Doctor using stethoscope on a senior patient at home

How To Manage High Cholesterol Levels?

Lifestyle changes remain one of the best methods to manage high cholesterol levels. If your body is still not able to manage cholesterol levels then you must switch to other options. 

  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors- Zetia is a drug that helps in the reduction of blood cholesterol by putting a limit to the absorption of dietary cholesterol in your body.
  • Bile acid-binding resins- Bile acids are made from cholesterol through your liver. Medications such as Prevalite, Welchol, Colestid are known to lower cholesterol indirectly by binding to bile acids.
  • Statins- Statins are a substance that blocks another substance that helps your liver make cholesterol. It helps your liver to reduce the cholesterol levels in your blood.
  • Bempedoic acid–  this is a drug that works the same way as a statin does. It can help to reduce the low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol levels.

Verdict

Hereditary high cholesterol can put your body at risk if you don’t treat it at the earliest. The fact that it doesn’t show any symptoms may trick you into believing that you cannot have it. You can treat it by bringing lifestyle changes to your life such as by eating healthy, doing physical activity regularly, losing weight, Low or no consumption of cigarettes as well as alcohol, etc. Lifestyle changes are enough to reduce your high level of cholesterol. If not, visit a doctor and discuss with him the treatment options available. Do not put a full stop to your lifestyle changes even if you are taking medications.

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