The secrets of the silent enemy

Having high cholesterol levels does not manifest itself through symptoms that can be felt, which is why it is known as “the silent enemy.”

Some people may have high blood cholesterol levels. Other people may develop atherosclerosis that can block a coronary artery and cause a heart attack or block an artery in the brain and lead to a stroke (embolism).

Knowing your cholesterol levels can prevent cardiovascular disease. Hence the importance of performing periodic clinical examinations to know the levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Who generates more cholesterol in the body?

Cholesterol is a nutrient found in foods of animal origin and cholesterol is also synthesized by all body tissues, in greater quantity by the liver and the intestine.

Young people produce more cholesterol than the elderly, women more than men, people with diseases such as hyperthyroidism, obesity or diabetes mellitus, people who eat more total energy and more lipids (fats) than those found in fast.

Likewise, people who have a lot of stress and those who have familial hypercholesterolemia, which is a genetic alteration, produce more cholesterol.

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Each person has a different susceptibility to cholesterol

Each person’s susceptibility to cholesterol varies. So blood cholesterol levels differ in each person, even if the same amount of cholesterol is ingested in the diet.

There are many factors related to individual susceptibility, including differences in endogenous cholesterol synthesis, absorption of cholesterol from the diet, biliary excretion of cholesterol, intestinal flora that metabolizes it, physical activity, age, diet with foods high in cholesterol, genetic inheritance, among others.

Relationship between diet and atherosclerosis

A diet high in foods of animal origin, high in cholesterol and saturated fat is related to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Among these, it could lead to chest pain (angina pectoris) if the coronary arteries are affected and other coronary artery symptoms.

Or atherosclerosis, which is the formation of atheromas in the blood that gradually clog the arteries and can clog an artery in the heart that could lead to a heart attack. And in the brain it causes a cerebrovascular accident (embolism).

Timely diagnosis and prevention of atherosclerosis

As part of the diagnosis, performing periodic clinical examinations helps to know the levels of cholesterol in the blood and contributes to the prevention of atherosclerosis.

It is recommended to limit excesses of foods of animal origin, especially foods high in cholesterol and with saturated fats.

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However, each person’s susceptibility to hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol levels) is different.

Some people tolerate a high intake of foods with cholesterol without developing hypercholesterolemia and others may suffer from it even if their intake of foods with cholesterol is moderate.

Some people with hypercholesterolemia will develop more atherosclerosis. It depends on which arteries are affected, they may suffer from severe or moderate cardiovascular diseases.

Remember to take regular blood tests to know your cholesterol levels and consult with your doctor about the actions to take.

Lifestyle changes needed to lower cholesterol levels

In addition to lifestyle changes, including eating a healthy diet without excess saturated fat, exercising most days of the week for at least 30 minutes, quitting smoking, losing weight, and maintaining a healthy weight. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation and it is convenient to control stress.

From when to have cholesterol blood tests?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), it should be started at an early age, starting at age 11, every 5 years.

Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have cholesterol screenings every year or two. And people over 65 every year.

Your doctor may even request that they be more often if the test results are not within acceptable levels or if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

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Remember a healthy lifestyle and taking clinical blood cholesterol tests can help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute).

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