What are the Risk Factors Affecting Cholesterol and Your Risk of Heart Problems?
Causes of high cholesterol vary depending on your lifestyle, gender and even your heritage. Each one of us can do certain things to live healthier, longer lives. One of those choices includes maintaining cholesterol at the right level. However, the truth is even young, thin; physically fit people can have high levels of cholesterol, although chances of higher levels increase due to certain factors. Lifestyle management can change some of these factors while others require a more aggressive approach which may include prescription cholesterol lowering medication or natural supplements to lower cholesterol.
There are two dietary factors associated with increases in blood cholesterol levels:
It's important to note that only foods of animal origin contain cholesterol. Lack of awareness of this fact has led to some confusing labels at the grocery store. For example, some items that are high in saturated fats from plant sources bare labels claiming that they are 100 percent cholesterol free. The statement may be true, but it's generally misleading because it implies that the product is definitely beneficial to your health. As you probably know its these types of fats and oils than can contribute to weight gain and all the associated health issues.
Family Genetic Connection
The truth is that family genes play a big role in many aspects of a person's health to include the amount of cholesterol you might have to deal with. With some diseases and issues such as high cholesterol your family history can play a role which is why doctors ask about your family history of disease as well as your own. This genetic tendency towards high cholesterol levels is often passed on from parents to their children. If your parents or other close blood relatives such as your aunt or uncle have high cholesterol, you will want to be tested regularly to see if your cholesterol levels are also elevated.
Your Age Counts Too
The blood levels of cholesterol tend to increase as we age, a factor doctors consider when deciding treatment options for patients with certain cholesterol levels. The level of cholesterol which is considered safe is adjusted slightly upwards as you age.
Americans weigh more now and over the last 10 years we as a population have gained weight at an alarming rate. With busy careers and responsibilities of our children's school schedules and activities plus all the normal responsibilities of managing our homes and finances, our tendency is to grab something quick while rushing out the door. While this is convenient and makes life easier for the moment, the long-term effects of a poor diet can be devastating.
If you are among the overweight you are more likely to have high blood cholesterol levels. Another concern is that even if you are even moderately overweight it effects your health as its likely you have low HDL( good cholesterol) levels. Strangely the location of excess weight also seems to play a role in cholesterol levels. A greater risk of increased cholesterol levels occurs when that extra weight is centered in your abdominal region, as opposed to your legs or buttocks.
Men tend to have higher LDL levels and lower HDL levels than do women, especially before age 50. After age 50, when women are in their menopausal and post menopausal years, decreasing amounts of estrogen can cause the LDL level to rise.
Certain Diseases May Increase Your Risk
Diseases such as diabetes can lower HDL levels, increase triglycerides and accelerate the development of atherosclerosis. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can also hasten the development of atherosclerosis, and some medications used to treat it can increase LDL and triglycerides and decrease HDL levels. Here you need medical advice beyond the information we can provide.
Pay Attention to these Lifestyle Issues
Factors that may negatively affect your cholesterol levels also include high levels of stress, which can raise total cholesterol levels, and cigarette smoking, which can lower a person's HDL( good cholesterol) level as much as 15 percent. On the other hand, strenuous exercise can increase good cholesterol levels and decrease LDL (the bad one) . Exercise also can help reduce body weight, which, in turn, can help reduce cholesterol.
Recent research has shown that moderate alcohol use (one glass of red wine per day) can raise HDL cholesterol and therefore reduce the risk of heart attack. Despite such research, it is difficult to recommend the habitual use of alcohol because there are also negative health consequences associated with alcohol use and a high potential for abuse.
Exercise and Cholesterol
Sorry you may not want to hear this but the facts are if you lead a sedentary lifestyle you greatly increase the chances of high cholesterol and the possibility of heart problems. Regular exercise is an excellent way to lower cholesterol and keep your body in the best functioning capacity. To have a positive benefit, exercise does not mean you have to run 10 miles a day and live in a gym six days a week. What it does mean, is that 20 minutes of aerobic type exercise, which includes walking, done on a daily basis, gives you the needed boost for lowering cholesterol reducing heart risk and increasing your longevity.
Multiple Risks are a Problem
Always remember that risk factors for high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease don't exist in a vacuum--they tend to amplify each other. Reducing your risk of a cardiovascular disease involves eliminating all of the risk factors that you can control and seeking medical advice for those you can't.