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Cholesterol

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Having a cholesterol test is very important for your health. Cholesterol is essential for life and is both our friend and foe. There are different types of cholesterol, including Low density lipoprotein (LDL) and High density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is usually called "bad" cholesterol because if there is too much of this type of cholesterol in the blood then body will store the surplus cholesterol in the body’s artery walls. HDL is called “good” cholesterol because it removes this bad cholesterol from the artery walls and takes it to the liver where the liver breaks it down and then it is excreted from the body. A cholesterol test will detect high levels of the bad cholesterol.

Because cholesterol is effectively recycled, approximately fifty percent of this cholesterol to be excreted is actually reabsorbed by the small bowel and sent in to the bloodstream. Besides the liver breaking cholesterol down, other organs involved include the reproductive organs, intestines and adrenal glands. Why are fruit and vegetables so important in our diet for healthy balance of cholesterol? Plants do not contain significant amounts of cholesterol. They only make cholesterol in very small amounts but they do manufacture phytosterols which are chemically close in structure to cholesterol. These phytosterols go head to head with our own cholesterol in the body vying for a position in the intestinal tract.

The cells in the lining of our intestinal tract absorb these phytosterols instead of cholesterol and of course are also recycled back in to the small bowel, nourishing our bodies with goodness. A very important protective process. This is why part of a good diet to reduce bad cholesterol includes eating your vegetables! Some nutraceuticals and supplements are also often prescribed to reduce bad cholesterol. Animal fats have a more complex makeup which include cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids and so the cholesterol in all of these fats varies. Animal products containing cholesterol include cheese, egg yolks, beef, pork, poultry and most seafood. High cholesterol can be caused from an unhealthy diet, hereditary factors and certain illnesses. Some drugs can also raise your cholesterol such as some diuretics, steroid hormones, beta blockers and antidepressants.

Check your cholesterol if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Immediate family or child with high cholesterol
  • Immediate family who have had a heart attack or angina before the age of 50 (man) or 60 (woman) or a family history of heart disease
  • Are a Type 2 Diabetic
  • Don’t exercise  
  • Have fatty deposits on your eyelids or a white ring around the iris of the eye
  • Are older or elderly
  • Are of South ASIAN decent
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have a diet high in animal/saturated fat

Most people don’t know they have a high level of bad cholesterol as there are no symptoms until the following events take place: 

  • Pain when you walk caused by a blockage to the arteries in the leg muscles
  • Angina - narrowing of one or more arteries in the heart 
  • Stroke - caused by a blockage in one of the arteries in the neck or brain
  • Heart attack - a blockage in one of the arteries that feed the heart

You can also get very low levels of cholesterol which is called hypercholesterolemia which some research saying this can cause depression, cancer, and cerebral hemorrhage. This is very unusual to see and it is also debated if low cholesterol is the cause or the result of having these illnesses. This is why it is important to have a cholesterol check.

The Cholesterol test at home:-

It is so simple these days to check your cholesterol that there home tests that can give you a reading in the comfort of your home. All it takes is a small fingerstick of blood which can then be sent to a laboratory in your prepaid envelope. You will receive the results in as little as 5 business days and these results can be confidentially and easily read.

Another way of testing your cholesterol at home is with a handheld device called a glucose/cholesterol monitor which also test your blood glucose levels. These devices come with strips that you place a small sample of blood on and place in the device to give you your cholesterol reading.

The American Heart Association recommends testing your cholesterol each five years in those aged 20 years or older. A 2013 set of American Heart Association guidelines suggests patients taking statin medications need to have their cholesterol tested four to twelve weeks first dose and every 3–12 months after.

Cholesterol

Your cholesterol levels should be tested at least every five years and more regularly as you get older. Cholesterol testing is very important especially if you are overweight, physically inactive, eat a high fat diet or have a history of heart disease. High cholesterol by itself generally has no signs or symptoms so being tested will provide you with the information about your current levels. Once you have the results you can then get on track regarding your lifestyle and diet, finding the right balance between the two. A cholesterol home test kit is a convenient and effective way to test your cholesterol levels while visiting a health clinic is also another option. Here’s some information, support and links should you have any concerns regarding cholesterol.

Products:

Have a look at the following products on these platforms that could meet your individual requirements.

Home testing – The good news is you can buy affordable cholesterol home test kits online without any hassle. A standard kit contains a lancet for drawing blood and test strips. The test strips have special chemicals which change color after a few minutes to let you know how much cholesterol is in your droplet of blood. More information here

Physician tests – doctors and health professionals can also test cholesterol levels at a clinic or surgery. Remember not to eat or drink anything other than water for up to 12 hours before you provide a blood sample. Depending on the result, your doctor can provide treatment if necessary. Click here for more information.

Resources and Links:

Facts about cholesterol: Center for Disease and Prevention www.cdc.gov