Cholesterol: Your Heart's Silent Enemy
Cardiovascular diseases are the biggest cause of death in Portugal, so better understand what's going on in your body and learn how to protect your heart.
By preserving the heart, we are looking after all the other organs in our body and our overall health. That is, if the heart is not working normally, the organs will not receive the amount of blood necessary for them to function as they are supposed to.
There are several risk factors including the non-modifiable and those of modifiable risk .
Having a family history of cardiovascular disease and advancing age are non-modifiable risk factors for diseases that affect the heart.
There are other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, closely associated with lifestyle, which you can suppress:
Solution: quit smoking now. If you can't do it yourself, book an anti-smoking appointment.
- High cholesterol levels and high blood pressure
Solution: Regularly monitor your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Eat a healthy diet rich in fiber, vegetables and lean protein and low in sugar, salt and saturated fat. Avoid consuming alcoholic and caffeinated beverages and do not smoke.
- Sedentary lifestyle
Solution: practice 30 minutes of physical exercise at least 5 times a week. If you don't want to go to the gym, go for walks, try swimming or cycling.
- Overweight and obesity
Solution: having a healthy diet and practicing physical exercise are the pillars of an adequate body weight. If you are already overweight or obese, be sure to consult your doctor or a nutritionist.
Solution: if you have difficulty managing stress, try modalities that help you relax, such as yoga or pilates.
As we have already mentioned, high cholesterol is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction and stroke. This risk will be even greater in the presence of high blood pressure or diabetes.
On the other hand, there are several factors that can increase the risk, such as an unhealthy diet, tobacco and heredity.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat) naturally produced by the liver or obtained through food, and is essential for the proper functioning of our body. When in excess, however, cholesterol accumulates in the artery walls, preventing normal blood circulation (atherosclerosis).
As the amount of oxygen that reaches tissues and organs, namely the brain and heart, decreases, diseases such as cerebrovascular accident (CVA) and myocardial infarction, two of the main causes of death and disability in Portugal, may arise.
Within the body, cholesterol attaches itself to proteins to be distributed to where it is needed (lipoproteins). But cholesterol is not all the same and can be divided into:
The “ good” cholesterol (called HDL) , and a “bad” cholesterol (called LDL) .
The “ good” HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) is protective, it helps to remove excess cholesterol, while “bad” LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) builds up in the arteries and forms plaques, making it difficult for blood to flow.
An imbalance between them increases the risk of coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction or stroke.
The values for total cholesterol, and for each of its types, that experts from the European Society of Cardiology recommend are:
Total cholesterol < 190 mg/dL
LDL cholesterol < 115 mg/dL
HDL cholesterol ≥ 40-45 mg/dL
In Portugal, around 68.5% of Portuguese people have cholesterol levels equal to or greater than 190 mg/dl. Approximately a quarter of Portuguese people have high cholesterol risk (>240 mg/dl) and 45.1% have moderate risk (190-239 mg/dl).
What are the symptoms that blood cholesterol levels are too high?
High cholesterol levels do not cause symptoms, so it is advisable to have routine tests at least every year. That is why it is called a silent disease.
In these analyses, the levels of LDL, HDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides can be quantified.
As a rule, cholesterol analysis should be performed in the following cases:
- Presence of coronary disease
- Peripheral artery disease
- Age over 40 years
- Family history of cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure or diabetes or other illnesses that increase cholesterol levels.
Your doctor will always be able to advise you on the ideal time to perform these tests and help you interpret your results.
So be aware of all the signs, and take care of your heart! ❤
Suggestions for some products to help reduce and control blood cholesterol levels
7395749 - Arterin - 60 tablets , 7774745 - Arkocapsulas Red Yeast Rice - 45 capsules
7068445- BioActivo Red Rice - 60 tablets , 7350488 - BioActivo Cardio Omega 3 - 60 capsules
7391698 - Advancis Omega-3 Super EPA - 30 capsules
Suggestions for some products to measure blood pressure
6353276 - Braun iCheck 7 - wrist blood pressure monitor
6353292 - Braun ExactFit 5 - arm blood pressure monitor