A high blood cholesterol level does not carry any specific symptom. A blood test is necessary to measure it. However, a high cholesterol level is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases such as infarct (heart attack), angina and stroke. It is therefore important that all adults seek a follow up on their blood cholesterol level, especially when over 45 years of age for men and 55 years of age for women.
SYMPTOMS: BLOOD TESTS DEPICTING HIGH TOTAL OR LDL-CHOLESTEROL
Whether heredity is involved in hypercholesterolemia or not, changes in the diet and lifestyle are the first modifiable factors to get the cholesterol levels back to the normal range. All cholesterol-rich foods and trans fat-containing foods should obviously be avoided as much as possible, while saturated fats should be limited. Poultry, fish, legumes and low-fat dairy products should be privileged instead. Sweet desserts can be replaced by fresh fruits. Sodas and coffee can be replaced by unsweetened fruit juices, herbal teas or green tea.
On the other hand, many foods are beneficial in helping reduce cholesterol levels back to the normal range. Dietary fibres found in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals and legumes will adsorb intestinal cholesterol and thereby reduce its entry into the bloodstream. Monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil, nuts and avocado), as well as polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and flax seed oil), are also of benefits since they can help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.
Physical inactivity combined with a high cholesterol level doubles the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. It is very important to exercise regularly. Not only will it help maintain or regain a healthy body weight, but being active will also contribute to reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL).
Smoking increases cholesterol levels. Getting rid of this bad habit will have a major impact on the control of blood cholesterol.