A high blood cholesterol level is referred to as hypercholesterolemia. Cholesterol is a sticky molecule produced by the liver and present in every cell in the human body.
The liver produces all of the cholesterol an individual uses, although dietary cholesterol can also be obtained from animal foods such as meat, chicken, dairy, egg yolk, and seafood. Such meals are high in unhealthy fats, which can cause the liver to produce an excess of cholesterol, which can lead to hypercholesterolemia in some situations.
Cholesterol is needed for a variety of body processes, including the manufacture of cell membranes and some hormones, as well as the production of fat-digesting proteins. A high cholesterol level, on the other hand, can raise the risk of a heart attack.
Causes of Hypercholesterolemia
High cholesterol in the blood causes fatty deposits to accumulate in the walls of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that feed blood to the heart. As cholesterol builds up in the arteries, atherosclerotic lesions form, narrowing and hardening the walls. Atherosclerosis is the medical term for this condition.
These plaques can eventually clog arteries, limiting the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the heart. Angina and heart attacks are more likely as a result of this. When the artery that delivers circulation (the carotid artery) narrows and hardens, a person is more likely to have a stroke.
Excessive cholesterol can also collect in other physiological tissues, such as the ligaments or under the skin of the eyelids, in inheritable forms of hypercholesterolemia. Familial hypercholesterolemia is the most frequent of these disorders. The occurrence of this illness is roughly 1 in 500 in most nations, but it is more frequent among some populations, such as French Canadians, Finns, and Lebanese.
A high cholesterol count can be inherited, but it is most often the result of a high-saturated-fat diet and a lack of physical activity. It is thus frequently preventable with healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise and a low-fat diet. If diet and lifestyle fail to lower cholesterol, cholesterol-lowering medicines may be prescribed.
Lipoproteins are a mixture of cholesterol and transport proteins that run throughout the body. The type of cholesterol carried by these lipoproteins determines their classification. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is a type of lipoprotein that transports cholesterol from the liver to different regions of the body. Cholesterol can build up in the walls of arteries if there is an excess of LDL, leading to atherosclerosis. As a result, LDL is commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.”
Excessive cholesterol is carried away from cells by high-density lipoprotein (HDL) to the liver, where it is broken and handled as a waste product. “Good cholesterol” refers to this lipoprotein.
Physical inactivity, a high-fat diet, and obesity are all unhealthy lifestyle choices that raise the likelihood of having a high LDL level and a low HDL level. Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a family history of stroke or heart disease are all risk factors.
Diagnosis of Hypercholesterolemia
Hypercholesterolemia normally has no signs, and the only way to find out whether you have it is to get a lipid profile, which is a blood test that measures your cholesterol levels. The total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are usually checked during this test.
A cholesterol level of more than 200 mg/dL is regarded as high, while an HDL level of less than 40 is deemed inadequate. However, whether or not a lipid profile is regarded safe relies on whether or not an individual is at risk for or already has heart disease.
Treatment of Hypercholesterolemia
Patients who have been diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia are urged to change their diet and exercise regularly. Limiting foods high in saturated fat, such as cheese, butter, cream, and high-fat meats, is one of the nutrition adjustments. Men should consume no more than 30 grams of saturated fat per day, while women should consume no more than 20 grams.
If the patient’s blood cholesterol level stays high after a few weeks, medication may be recommended. The medicine or drug combination that is prescribed is determined by a number of factors, including the patient’s age, current wellness, probable adverse effects, and personal risk factors.
Statins block a chemical that the liver needs for cholesterol synthesis, causing the liver to take fat from the bloodstream. The body may also be able to eliminate cholesterol from lesions that have developed in the arteries, improving arterial health.
Bile-Acid Binding Resins: Cholesterol is required by the liver to produce the bile acids required for absorption. These resins attach to bile acids, causing the liver to acquire extra cholesterol in order to continue producing the acids, reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Inhibitors of cholesterol absorption in the intestine help to lower blood cholesterol levels since cholesterol is taken into the bloodstream from meals in the small intestine.
How do symptoms manifest themselves in the legs?
The most harmful aspect of cholesterol creates is that it causes no symptoms until it reaches a severe level and begins to interfere with your regular activities. A frequent blood check-up is the only method to diagnose and prevent it. When cholesterol levels in the blood reach dangerously high levels, it begins to harm the Achilles tendon in your legs. As a result, you may notice symptoms in your legs. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:
01. Leg pain
When the arteries in your legs get clogged, not enough oxygen-rich blood reaches your lower body. Your leg may feel heavy and fatigued as a result. Burning discomfort in the legs and feet is common in patients with elevated cholesterol levels. Pain can occur in any area of the leg, including the thighs and calves. The discomfort is most noticeable when the man steps, even if it is only for a short distance.
02. Leg aches and pains
Some other classic sign of excessive cholesterol levels affecting the arteries of the lower limbs is severe leg cramps during sleeping. Cramping or spasms usually occur in the heel, foot, or toes. While sleep, the condition deteriorates. It may be possible to receive relief by dangling the foot off the bed or by sitting. Due to gravitational attraction, doing so aids blood flow down.
03. Changes in the colour of your skin and nails
The color of nails and skin might be affected by a decrease in blood flow. This is primarily due to a lack of sufficient feeding for the cells due to a reduction in the flow of blood transporting nutrients and oxygen. The toenail may thicken and keep growing, and the skin will become shinier and tighter.
04. Cold toes
Recall how cold your feet felt on a chilly winter day? High cholesterol levels might cause your feet to look the same all season. Even in the heat, touching your feet will make them feel cold. It is a symptom of PAD. Do not ignore it; instead, consult your physician.