Cholesterol is a substance that resembles a wax made by the liver and is present in certain foods to perform various functions like digesting fatty foods, producing vitamin D, enhancing the cell membrane, etc. It can be beneficial, but a high amount of it in the body can harm health.
What Are Cholesterol Levels?
Cholesterols come in two levels known as the Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and the High-density lipoprotein (HDL). If you have LDL, it’s bad news, but if you have HDL, it shows all is well.
The HDL’s job in your body is to ensure no excess cholesterols in your arteries. So when it notices such, it removes it and takes it to the liver to excrete it. No wonder it’s called the good cholesterol. However, LDL means the HDL cannot function effectively by flushing cholesterols from the arteries. Therefore, these cholesterols accumulate and cause plaque.
Effects Of Cholesterol Levels On The Body
Let’s explore many diseases associated with the effects of cholesterol on the body.
1. Cardiovascular Diseases
The artery is a pipe that transports blood from the heart to the body. When the LDL cholesterol blocks it with plaque, the arteries suffer from atherosclerosis. It’s no longer flexible and cannot transport blood to the heart and liver. Hence, the heart cannot pump blood seamlessly due to more plaque accumulation, resulting in heart diseases like angina (chest pain), coronary artery disease, heart attacks, etc.
As a result of high levels of LDL cholesterol blocking the arteries, the heart will have to pump blood more than usual. So, instead of the blood pressure that flows from the heart to the body to be normal, it gets high. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is deadly and shouldn’t be taken for granted. To avoid hypertension, reduce your intake of saturated and trans fat foods, fried and processed foods, and salt, and quit smoking.
3. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Do you know that the arteries in your arms or legs can also be affected due to LDL cholesterol levels? You’ll start to feel symptoms like leg pain, numbness, and weakness. You might also be limping, also known as claudication, and if care is not taken immediately, expect severe cases like tissue damage, infection, and amputation.
Stroke occurs when the hardened arteries block the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the brain. Moreover, it can progress to an ischemic stroke, where blood clots block the arteries that connect to the brain.
The blood clot can be stimulated to get detached due to atherosclerosis in that area; moreover, when the blood vessel is injured due to high blood pressure, inflammation, etc., the blood clot can also block the arteries connecting to the brain. Lastly, irregular heart rhythms due to heart conditions like atrial fibrillation can store blood in the heart chamber, resulting in blood clots that can travel into the arteries and block them.
All these incidents can damage the brain tissue due to insufficient blood supply and result in paralysis, speech difficulties, and cognitive deficits.
When your cholesterol is more than your bile can dissolve, there will be gallstones, a solid substance that can cause indigestion and severe pain. While the kind of food you eat and genetics can also produce gallstones, high cholesterol is also a significant factor.
6. Erectile Dysfunction
When there’s less blood flow to certain parts of the body, such as the genitals, it can cause erectile dysfunction. A man can be excited, anticipating an exhilarating sex, but his male organ will fail him. He won’t have an erection, a shameful experience that can affect his self-esteem. This can affect the relationship of several victims suffering from it.
7. Liver Disease
Where there’s more cholesterol in the liver, it will accumulate more fats than it needs and develop fatty liver diseases, also known as steatosis, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, etc. Worse still, it can even lead to liver damage, meaning it cannot perform its numerous functions again.
Cholesterol levels are something people should be aware of, especially when they start seeing the symptoms. It’s best to visit a healthcare provider. High cholesterol levels can cause many diseases that can be deadly, such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, strokes, erectile dysfunction, liver disease, etc.