A lot is said and written about cholesterol. For example, many advertisements that promote foodstuffs tell you that this product fits within a 'cholesterol-lowering diet'. You probably also know that high cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular disease. But what exactly is cholesterol? When and in what specific cases is high cholesterol dangerous to health? Here we tell you everything you need to know about high cholesterol and what you can do about it!
Cholesterol, what is it anyway?
When we talk about cholesterol, we are talking about a fatty substance in our body. Some people think that cholesterol is inherently bad, but that is a misunderstanding. Cholesterol is very useful and even necessary in our body for the production of hormones, cells and bile. Our body can make cholesterol itself. This happens in the liver. We also obtain cholesterol through food. In short, high cholesterol is not a disease, but a sign that the body is out of balance. This can entail health risks.
Why is high cholesterol dangerous?
If your cholesterol level is much too high for a long time, there is a risk that this fatty substance will stick and accumulate on the walls of blood vessels. In other words, your blood vessels become narrower and can clog up. The result is that serious cardiovascular diseases can develop. This includes a heart attack and a stroke. High cholesterol levels can also lead to kidney problems in the long term. Do you want to know how high your cholesterol level is? Then you can have your cholesterol measured via a finger prick at some pharmacies. The cholesterol level in the blood is measured with a special cholesterol meter. Is this too high? Then consult a doctor.
Also pay attention to other factors
High cholesterol, especially in combination with other factors, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. These other factors include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Little movement
- Kidney damage
Preventing and reducing high cholesterol
You can prevent and reduce high cholesterol by choosing a healthy lifestyle with sufficient exercise and a healthy diet. That sounds easier than it is. If you could use some help with this, consult a doctor. In any case, try to avoid saturated fats in your diet. These are fats found in cookies, pastries, snacks, fries, chips, fatty meats, whole dairy products and full-fat cheese. Healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6, are important in a healthy diet. These actually reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They are found in vegetable oils, oily fish and nuts.
When do you need medicine?
High cholesterol does not always mean that you also need medication. It is often possible to reduce this problem with a few adjustments to your lifestyle and diet. However, if there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, a doctor can prescribe medication. Some examples of medications used to lower high cholesterol levels are: