Our body needs cholesterol to form healthy cells; however, high levels of this waxy substance can also increase the risk of chronic illnesses. 1 What is more, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol levels, which makes it hard to keep it in check.
What is cholesterol?
Although not an entirely new term, many people don't know where cholesterol comes from. This fat-like substance is made in the liver and has a number of functions, including:
A part of bile acids that help in the breakdown of fatty foods
A precursor of testosterone and other steroid hormones
Enhance the health of cell membrane
Help in the production of vitamin D in the skin with sunlight exposure 2
There are two major types of cholesterol, namely:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
This is also called "bad" cholesterol, and when its level increases, it can cause plaques in your blood vessels, thus narrowing them.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
This is also referred to as "good" protein, and when its levels drop, it may lead to health issues and concerns. 3
What are the symptoms of cholesterol concerns?
While high levels of blood cholesterol do not have obvious signs, it can increase the risk for ailments that display visible symptoms, including stroke and other circulatory conditions. 4
But if your body has high cholesterol levels, it may store the extra substance in your blood vessels. This may lead to the formation of plaques, which can harden over time and make your vessels narrow. Soon, the vessel will be completely blocked by the build-up of large plaque deposits. Apart from this, cholesterol plaques may disintegrate and form clots in the blood, blocking blood flow. 4
Soft, yellowish lesions or growths on skins known as xanthomas may hint at increased cholesterol levels in the blood
In men, elevated cholesterol levels in the blood may cause importance
What are the effects of high cholesterol levels?
1. Effect of the nervous system
The human brain contains approximately 25 percent of the total cholesterol in the body. 5 This fat-like substance aid in the development as well as protection of nerve cells that are essential for the communication between the rest of the body and the brain.
However, high cholesterol levels may lead to strokes – blockage of blood flow, which may damage brain sections and cause movement impairment and memory loss.
2. Can cause gallstones
Cholesterol is used in the human digestive system to produce bile. However, high cholesterol levels in bile can transform into crystals that can harden into stones in the gallbladder. Passing these stones can be very excruciating. 6
High blood pressure or hypertension is associated with elevated cholesterol levels. 7 It is believed that high cholesterol levels in the blood can stimulate inflammation and thus release particular hormones that cause blood arteries to constrict or tighten, thus increasing blood pressure. 8
Managing your blood cholesterol levels with regular blood tests can help you prevent many chronic conditions and improve the quality of your life.