Comprehensive knowledge of cholesterol and hyperlipidemia

Hyperlipidemia is a very prevalent chronic disease, many patients may take more than two drugs at the same time to treat it, if repeated use of the same ingredient drugs, it may aggravate the side effects, causing harm to the body.

The cause of hyperlipidemia is that the cholesterol in the blood (especially bad cholesterol) is too high. When the concentration of cholesterol or triglyceride circulating in the blood is higher than normal, it is called hyperlipidemia.

Cholesterol is divided into good cholesterol and bad cholesterol

What is hyperlipidemia?

Hyperlipidemia refers to the excessive amount of fat in the blood.

Generally seen in the health report of “total cholesterol” and “triglyceride” these two indicators, as long as one or both of the index exceeded the normal value, may be suffering from hyperlipidemia.

Why can you trigger hyperlipidemia?

Causes can be divided into two parts: genetic factors, acquired factors, excluding uncontrollable congenital factors, there are the following acquired factors:

  • Disease effects: diabetes, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, liver disease and so on.
  • Medication: thiazide diuretics, blood pressure lowering drugs, steroids, oral hormones, etc.
  • Bad habits: excessive intake of total calories or fat, excessive drinking, smoking, obesity, low exercise, and so on.

In particular, eating habits, like to eat too full, fried, fat, animal viscera, dairy products, fine dessert, shell seafood, are considered a dangerous group of hyperlipidemia; In addition, long-term life stress, work stress, may also lead to dyslipidemia.

The cholesterol myth

When you hear “cholesterol,” what’s your gut feeling? Think it’s unhealthy, or is less of it better? In fact, it is not so simple.

In fact, cholesterol, which is needed to make cell membranes and hormones, plays an important role in maintaining physiological function.

Your body needs cholesterol, not too much cholesterol, and cholesterol is divided into good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, which we’ll explain to you a little bit.

Burgers and fried foods, high in cholesterol

Food cholesterol ≠ Blood cholesterol.

Dietary guidelines issued by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USAD) in 2015 no longer set a limit on cholesterol intake. Because research by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) shows that the link between “cholesterol eaten and cholesterol in the blood” is no longer so absolute.

There are two main sources of cholesterol, about 70-80% from the liver and about 20% from food, indicating that only a small proportion of cholesterol comes from food.

The body has a set of regulatory mechanisms, once intake of excessive cholesterol, the liver will reduce the amount of synthesis, so that cholesterol concentration to maintain a normal level.

So, no matter how much or how little cholesterol we eat, it’s the other ingredients of the food, our personal lifestyle, and the body itself that ultimately decide whether to turn into good or bad cholesterol.

So we can safely eat high cholesterol foods?

Although cholesterol “in itself” is not good or bad, high-cholesterol foods are often high in saturated fatty acids or calories, because saturated fatty acids increase the concentration of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. So for hyperlipidemia patients, it is better to eat less high-cholesterol food.

Does cholesterol have good and bad cent?

Whether in food or in the human body, cholesterol “per se” is not divided into good and bad, the key lies in how the human body uses. Cholesterol is transported and recovered in the blood vessels by lipoproteins, which distribute the cholesterol to various tissues and recover excess cholesterol to the liver.

We can assume that cholesterol was originally a simple and kind person who had two good friends: HDL and LDL.

We can think of HDL as a “good friend” of cholesterol and LDL as a “bad friend”. Why?

  • HDL can transport cholesterol from blood vessels and peripheral tissues to liver for synthesis and metabolism, removing excess cholesterol from blood vessels and avoiding accumulation in blood vessel walls, which has a beneficial effect on blood vessel health.
  • Because of its small size, LDL easily seeps into the blood vessel wall to form congee arteriosclerosis, which makes the vessel wall thicker and less elastic. Narrow vascular channels can lead to difficulties in blood flow and, in severe cases, to blockage of blood vessels.

Therefore, the “high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C)” that is commonly seen in health reports is also known as good cholesterol, and “low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C)” in excess can lead to cardiovascular disease. So it’s called bad cholesterol.

Understanding triglyceride. 

Triglycerides, like cholesterol, are one of the body’s lipids and come from roughly the same sources as cholesterol, partly from food and partly from the liver. 

It provides the energy needed by cells and helps store energy. Proper adipose tissue prevents loss of body temperature and protects the internal organs from shock and friction. 

However, if the body triglyceride concentration is too high, will affect the body’s normal metabolism, and then cause high blood pressure, hyperglycemia or hyperlipidemia, more likely to increase the risk of atherosclerosis. 

In addition, triglycerides also tend to make the blood too sticky, if the index of 500 mg/dL, it may cause acute pancreatitis.

Diagnostic criteria for hyperlipidemia

Normal valueWarning valueDanger value
Total cholesterol (TC)< 200 mg/dL200~239 mg/dL> 240 mg/dL
Low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C)< 130 mg/dL130~159 mg/dL> 160 mg/dL
High density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C)> 40 mg/dL< 40 mg/dL< 40 mg/dL
Triglyceride (TG)< 150 mg/dL150~199 mg/dL> 200 mg/dL

In general, cholesterol levels should be kept within normal limits, and if the test results are at an alarming level, diet and lifestyle changes should be made and followed up again within a year. If one of them is at risk and changes in diet and exercise are still out of control, you have to mix them with medication. 

The diagnosis of hyperlipidemia can not be judged by a single index, but need to observe the proportion of various lipid components, and then by the doctor to do a comprehensive evaluation. 

Treatment usually depends on the disease and physical condition, if there is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as:

  • high blood pressure. 
  • Men over 45 years of age, women over 55 years of age or menopause.
  • Family history of premature coronary heart disease (male 55 years, female 65 years). 
  • Low high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C < 40 mg/dL). 
  • Smoking

If these people can’t reduce LDL-C by changing their lifestyle, they may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the long run, so they should be treated with statins drugs as soon as possible. It also has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system.

However, statins blood lipid lowering drugs still have side effects that must be paid attention to. A small number of patients may have myopathy, such as muscle pain, weakness, cramps, stiffness, and so on. If patients have muscle discomfort after taking the medicine, they should report it to their doctor or pharmacist. To facilitate drug evaluation.

Although there are no obvious symptoms at the initial stage of hyperlipidemia, vascular health is already threatened. Therefore, it is very important to have regular health checkups. Only through blood tests can symptoms be detected early and controlled and treated as soon as possible.

How to control blood lipid? 

For patients with hyperlipidemia, the following principles can help control blood lipids: 

Diet control

  • Avoid foods high in saturated fatty acids, such as animal skin or offal (pig skin, pig heart, pig liver, etc.), pig / butter, pork / tallow, crab roe, fish eggs, and less egg yolk, cream, sweets, etc. 
  • Eat a lot of omega-3 fatty acid rich deep-sea fish, such as mackerel, salmon, saury, tuna and so on, can raise good cholesterol, promote blood vessel health. 
  • Eating foods high in fiber, such as unprocessed beans, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, has the benefit of boosting metabolism. Water-soluble fiber also helps reduce cholesterol and LDL-C, which can also reduce the body’s inflammatory response. 
  • Cooking methods used more steamed, boiled, cold, roasted, stewed, halogen, to avoid frying, fried. Choice of fried oil olive oil, peanut oil, rapeseed oil, mustard oil, sunflower oil and other unsaturated fatty acids content of oil products, and try to use water frying, avoid the fire fast frying, so as to avoid oil over smoking point and deterioration. 
  • Control heat, do not eat too much, eat less high-calorie food, weight control within the standard value, can reduce the burden of blood vessels. (eligible BMI index should be controlled between 18.5 and 24)

Life control

  • Get rid of bad habits: such as quit smoking, stop drinking, avoid staying up late, and maintain a regular schedule. 
  • Increase exercise frequency: in addition to helping to burn calories and avoid obesity, exercise can also increase the concentration of good cholesterol in the blood. 
  • Maintain emotional stability: moderate arrangements for leisure activities, release pressure. 
  • Regular health check: pay attention to cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 
  • Take medicine on time: for hyperlipidemia patients, drug control is very important, should comply with doctors, pharmacist instructions to take medicine on time, can not be stopped rashly.

What are the risks of hyperlipidemia?

The most direct effect of hyperlipidemia is to cause atherosclerosis or blockage of blood vessels.

  • If the blockage occurs in the brain, it can cause a stroke, causing permanent damage.
  • If it happens in the blood vessels of the kidneys, it can cause renal hypertension and kidney failure.
  • If the site of obstruction is in the peripheral arteries of the lower extremities, it may result in reduced blood flow to the lower extremities, and intermittent claudication (sudden pain, numbness) or other pathological changes may occur in the lower extremities.

In case of occurrence in the coronary artery near the heart, it may cause myocardial hypoxia, chest tightness, angina pectoris symptoms, if the atherosclerotic plaque rupture completely blocked blood vessels, will lead to myocardial infarction. Especially when the temperature changes violently, the myocardial infarction often comes suddenly, the death rate is quite high.

Therefore, if the lipid concentration is not properly controlled, the harm to health can not be underestimated.

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