Cholesterol and the truth about which we remain deaf and blind
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide
Everyone has heard of cholesterol, but in fact few people know what exactly it is and what vital functions it performs in the human body.
Cholesterol is divided into high-density lipoprotein (HDL or so-called “good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or so-called “bad” cholesterol). While the excess amount of bad cholesterol that circulates in the blood begins to be deposited in the arteries and creates the preconditions for a cardiovascular accident, good cholesterol works on the opposite principle – it “robs” bad cholesterol and helps to expel it from the body.
Very often there are high levels of total cholesterol and bad cholesterol, which are not characterized by any symptoms. When we talk about elevated or high cholesterol, we mean elevated from the considered normal upper limit values of cholesterol in the blood.
People usually do not think that they can be affected, and the consequences of this. And even if they know that they have high blood cholesterol levels, they do not take it seriously until there are no major consequences and complications. (It is believed that the most common complications caused by high cholesterol are heart attack or stroke)
And while we tend to believe that these are “diseases” in adults and “this will not happen to me”, studies show that the food we eat, our lifestyle and age affect only up to 20% of the formation of bad cholesterol, and hereditary burden as much as 80%.
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an inherited condition characterized by higher than normal levels of LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the blood. Familial hypercholesterolemia causes up to 10% of early-onset or pre-existing cardiovascular disease
If your relative or relatives have had a heart attack, needed a stent or had a bypass earlier in life – before the age of 55 in men and before the age of 65 in women – these are signs that your family may there is familial hypercholesterolemia.
Although high blood cholesterol is usually asymptomatic, other signs and symptoms of familial hypercholesterolemia besides family history may include:
• Fatty deposits on the skin called xanthomas; usually found on the hands, elbows, knees and ankles
• Fat deposits in the eyelid area called xanthelasmas
• High blood cholesterol levels
• Spasms of one or both calves when walking
• Chest pain
• Sudden stroke-like symptoms such as speech problems, sagging on one side of the face, weakness in the arm or leg and loss of balance
Familial hypercholesterolemia is a significantly poorly diagnosed problem – only 10% of people born with FH know they have it and are diagnosed today.
This is due to low public awareness, the inability to link high cholesterol to a genetic cause, and that many people with FH do not show visible symptoms and therefore do not receive the necessary care.
The good news is that familial hypercholesterolemia can be diagnosed with a simple blood test and a family history of early cardiovascular disease. Genetic testing can also be used to confirm the presence of FH.
The European Society of Cardiology and the European Community of Atherosclerosis recommend the use of foods rich in phytosterols and supplements containing fermented red rice under the action of yeast.
Elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels in young people are not uncommon. We also find upper or slightly elevated blood sugar levels. This change progresses over time and increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, diabetes or gout.
There must be an awareness that prevention is extremely important!
Stress, unhealthy diet, smoking are definitely among the causes of high cholesterol, but I also have patients who have cardiovascular problems and high cholesterol, even though they exercise and lead a healthy lifestyle. In these cases, it is more a matter of hereditary burden. If there are relatives in the family with a heart attack or heart problems, especially at an earlier age, they are very likely to inherit.