Cholestrol

Causes of Hypercholesterolemia

Cholesterol is a fat-like waxy substance found in the cell membranes and is an essential metabolite for the body. The body requires cholesterol but to a certain extent. If the optimal levels of cholesterol exceeds, it may lead to health disorders, especially heart diseases and stroke. The condition of high cholesterol levels in the body is called hypercholesterolemia. The causes of hypercholesterolemia and the effect of high cholesterol on the heart are discussed below.

What Causes Hypercholesterolemia?

The factors that cause hypercholesterolemia include:

  • Heredity –

    Genes are a cause for high cholesterol levels in the body. Parents with hypercholesterolemia can pass on the condition to their children.

  • Diet –

    A high intake of food rich in dietary cholesterol, excess calories and saturated fat can increase the cholesterol levels in the body. Also, the LDL cholesterol levels increase and HDL cholesterol levels decrease if a person is obese.

  • Physical activity –

    Lack of physical activities such as exercises can cause raise in bad cholesterol and a lowering in good cholesterol levels. Performing regular physical activities just causes the opposite.

  • Age and gender –

    Cholesterol levels start raising in both men and women at the age of 20 years. Premenopausal women have lower levels of cholesterol but after the menopause, the cholesterol levels rise up leading to risk of heart diseases.

  • Medical conditions –

    Medical conditions such as diabetes, liver diseases, thyroid disease or kidney disease cause raise in cholesterol levels.

Hypercholesterolemia and Heart Disease

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is naturally made by some nutrients present in the liver. Cholesterol can also enter into the body through diet containing animal products such as diary products, red meat, etc. It cannot be dissolved in the blood as it is a fatty substance. Cholesterol always combines with lipoproteins to form complex substances. The main four lipoproteins are:

  • Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL)
  • Chylomicrons
  • Low density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL)

Chylomicrons transport the broken down fats from the gut to the tissues in the body where they can be stored and used. VLDL handles these broken down fats and cholesterol where it splits the cholesterol into fatty acids and glycerol.

After reaching the liver, the remains of the broken down fats convert into LDL. LDL receptors help in removing the LDL from the blood

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