High cholesterol: The one thing aside from a stomach bug that can make your doctor go green at the gills. Your doctor will usually tell you “You have high cholesterol” in the same tone of voice he will tell you “You have an alien parasite growing inside your stomach.” Comical as it may sound, do keep in mind that high cholesterol is something serious that you need to take care of as quickly as possible, particularly if you want to avoid the symptoms. “Symptoms” is a word that sounds ominous and foreboding, and you will find that the high cholesterol symptoms truly can be dangerous if, like a shark in a kiddy pool, it is left unattended.
High cholesterol symptoms are no joke, and you should do what you can to keep your cholesterol low. If you don’t take care to keep healthy cholesterol levels in your body, you may find that it will get out of control and could lead to a number of unwanted symptoms. High cholesterol doesn’t always result in serious symptoms and consequences, but the chances are high that you will end up suffering if you don’t take care to keep healthy cholesterol levels.
There are many things that result from high cholesterol, and many of the symptoms can be potentially fatal. If you have found that your cholesterol levels are higher than normal, you should do what you can to keep it low. Avoiding high cholesterol levels by eating the right foods to lower cholesterol, doing exercise, and caring for your body is important.
Read on to find out what are the signs of high cholesterol, as well as which can be potentially fatal and which are only mildly dangerous. The information below will help you to learn everything you need to know about reining in your cholesterol levels before they get too far out of control.
Remember that high cholesterol means high levels of total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is actually good for you, as it prevents LDL cholesterol levels from becoming too high. The more HDL you have in your body, the less likely you are to suffer from high cholesterol.
It is only when the levels of LDL gets too high that you will begin to have problems. You can eat the right foods and live a healthy lifestyle to avoid these problems, but you should know as much as possible about the warning signs that will indicate that you have high cholesterol. These warning signs are not like the “Check Engine” light on the dashboard of your teenager’s car that is constantly ignored, but should be treated more like the flashing lights of a “Crossing Train” sign that indicates you will die if you aren’t careful.
High Cholesterol Symptoms:
Angina is the fancy name for chest pains, but it is not something that you should take lightly. Chest pains are a symptom of heart problems, and they are like a flashing light that should warn you that your cholesterol is fairly high. Chest pains happen when not enough blood is flowing to your heart, which usually happens when your arteries become blocked by cholesterol and plaque buildups.
When you get too much plaque clogging up your arteries, they become too narrow to allow enough blood to flow through them to your heart.
When this happens:
- Your chest begins to hurt and you feel like you have a large person sitting on you.
- You may feel pressure on your chest, or it may be in your back, your neck, your jaw, in your upper stomach, your shoulders, or even in your arms.
- You may also be short of breath, feel like vomiting, your world may start spinning, you may feel suddenly weak, and your heart may start beating irregularly.
All of these things are symptoms associated with angina, but even experiencing one of these things should alert you that something far more serious could happen. If you feel these pains in your chest, you should take note of them to determine if they are stable or unstable.
REMEMBER: Stable angina happens at predictable times, and is usually caused by problems like overexertion or blocked arteries. Unstable angina may be a sign that a heart attack may be just around the corner.
If you feel these chest pains, visit your doctor for blood tests and monitoring immediately. The irregular heart beat may be nothing more than a simple exposure to cold, or it may be something as serious as the warning that a heart attack may soon strike. Don’t let these warning signs pass by unnoticed.
Atherosclerosis is when there is too much cholesterol building up on the walls of the arteries, which causes the arteries to become too narrow. Imagine that your arteries are like the walls of a tunnel allowing blood to pass through. When too many cholesterol particles accumulate on the walls of your arteries, it acts like a roadblock narrowing the four-lane tunnel into a one-lane road. The longer the blockage continues, the worse the traffic jam gets until things get completely out of control.
Atherosclerosis can lead to:
- Ruptured blood vessels, which are caused by the blood pressing against the blockage until the walls of the arteries can no longer hold the blood back and they explode.
- When the blood vessels explode near the heart, a heart attack is the result.
- When the blood vessels near the brain explode, a stroke is the result.
- Chest pain, or angina, is common when the blood vessels are blocked.
REMEMBER: All of the above symptoms of atherosclerosis can be potentially fatal, and you would do well to lower cholesterol as quickly as possible by eating the right foods to lower cholesterol, following a low cholesterol diet, and doing exercise.
The heart is one of the most important muscles in the body, and it needs a steady supply of blood circulating through it in order to function properly. The blood not only keeps it working, but supplies it with the oxygen that is the fuel to keep it burning. The coronary arteries are the blood vessels responsible for feeding the oxygen-rich blood to the heart, and they need to stay as open and clear as possible.
However, when the buildups of plaque and cholesterol form on the coronary arteries, they prevent the blood from reaching the heart. The deposits of the fatty matter act like the traffic jam that prevents a steady stream of blood and oxygen from being delivered to the heart, and the soft matter turns to hard plaque if it is not eliminated as quickly as possible.
The hardened plaque then cracks, and the body send platelets to clot the “injury”. The cracked plaque fools the body into thinking that it is damaged, and thus the platelets clot the blood around the cracks. When this happens, the blood cannot reach the heart, and the heart begins to starve for oxygen and blood. The total clot prevents the blood from getting to the heart, and chest pains begin when the heart is working overtime to try to pump blood through the coronary arteries.
REMEMBER: When the heart doesn’t get enough blood, the muscle basically shuts down or “dies”. The death of the cells in the muscle of the heart is known as a heart attack, and the damage done to the muscles of the heart is permanent.
Some of the signs that you are having a heart attack include:
- Pain, heaviness, and pressure in the chest and left arm
- Discomfort spreading from the chest into the throat, back, arm, and jaw
- A choking feeling similar to that of heartburn
- Irregular or very rapid heart beats
- Fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and anxiety
Heart attacks are not always fatal, but you should avoid tempting fate and prevent your cholesterol levels from getting too high. The damage to the heart will depend on the area that is affected, as well as the time between the actual heart attack and the treatment being administered. Heart attacks are serious, so it is best to deal with your high cholesterol before it kills you.
The brain is tied with the heart for being the most important organs in the body, and your brain controls everything in your body. Without blood, however, your brain is basically a giant lump of useless tissue. The brain needs a steady supply of blood to keep it working, as the blood brings the oxygen the brain needs to work well. If the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it will begin to shut down and this can be potentially fatal.
When atherosclerosis sets in and the arteries bringing blood to the veins are blocked by the clots, the brain doesn’t get enough blood to work well. A stroke occurs when the blood vessels near the brain are either blocked or busted, and the lack of blood to the brain can actually cause the brain to shut down within a few minutes. Even if the entire brain doesn’t shut down, the part of the brain that didn’t get enough blood will usually be damaged, sometimes permanently.
REMEMBER: Strokes may be mild, meaning that blood loss only prevented the brain from functioning for a few seconds to a minute or two, or they may be serious, meaning that entire portions of the brain have completely shut down due to a lack of blood.
Your body doesn’t build up to a stroke, sending you a memo saying, “By the way, I will have a stroke at 5 p.m.” A stroke can occur within a matter of seconds, and there are a few symptoms that you should keep an eye out for if your cholesterol levels are very high: * Your body feels numb, weak, or tingly all over like you are high on pixie dust. This numbness usually sets in around your face, leg, arms, or on just one side of your body.
- Your vision suddenly changes
- You find yourself having a hard time speaking and forming words
- You are suddenly confused and can’t understand anything
- You find yourself losing balance and stumbling around
- A headache that is sharp and painful, and that is different from any other kind of headache
If this happens, you need to get medical treatment as soon as possible. The cholesterol blockade is preventing your brain from getting the blood it needs, and you may find that your brain will actually completely shut down if the blockage isn’t removed quickly. If even part of your brain shuts down due to the atherosclerosis, you may find that you lose some or all of your brain functions, leading to paralysis, impaired function, and possibly death.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is actually the primary cause of death in the U.S., which is a terrifying thought for anyone who has high cholesterol. A heart attack is just one specific form of coronary artery disease, and there are a few more to watch out for. Coronary artery disease is fairly simple to understand, but it can be fatal if not treated immediately: The cholesterol forms blockages in the vessels that feed blood to the heart. When the cholesterol blockages form, they are made of soft, fatty tissue that accumulates easily on the walls of the arteries.
The waxy substance known as cholesterol then hardens like candle wax, and it turns into plaque. This plaque reduces the size of the coronary arteries, preventing the blood from flowing through them effectively.
When the blood cannot flow through the arteries sufficiently, the heart begins to lack blood. If you have ever tried to run a water pump without any water running through the pipes, you will know what the heart is experiencing. Just like a water pump that is running dry, the heart will soon break down if it doesn’t get enough blood to keep it running.
REMEMBER: When the heart shuts down, this known as a heart attack.
Another problem that arises when the arteries and other blood vessels are blocked is that the blood backs up until it explodes. Anyone who has ever filled a water balloon with a high powered pressure washer knows exactly what this is like, as the heart keeps pumping the blood into the blockage until the arterial walls are pushed past their breaking point. This exploding of the blood vessels can be serious and potentially fatal.
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral arterial disease is something that occurs when the arteries around the periphery, or extremity, of the body is blocked. When the blood vessels connecting your heart to your arms, legs, pelvis, neck, or abdomen are blocked, not enough blood is able to flow to the extremities to keep the muscles functioning properly.
The arteries that feed blood to the legs are the most likely to get blocked by cholesterol, and, due to the fact that they are the furthest away from the heart, it is much less likely that blockages will be noticed before it is nearly too late. The reduced blood flow to the legs is caused by the narrowing of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, and high levels of cholesterol can cause this problem.
The symptoms of this peripheral arterial disease include:
A squeezing or tight pain in the buttocks, thighs, calves, or feet.
This pain usually occurs during exercise, and is known as intermittent claudication. It usually only happens after you have been doing exercise for a while, as the legs will only require more blood once the muscles are pumping.
REMEMBER: Sitting or lying down may cause the pain to be reduced, as enough blood may be able to pass through the arteries when you are in a resting state. This peripheral artery disease is usually most commonly noticed during periods of prolonged activity when the legs need blood to keep working.
There are a few other signs that peripheral arterial disease may be setting in in your legs, such as:
- Less strength in your legs while you are standing up
- Reduced leg function when standing
- You lose your balance much more easily when standing
- Your toes and feet are cold and numb
- You have sores on your legs that take far too long to heal.
- Catching the peripheral arterial disease at an early stage is the best way to ensure that it doesn’t get worse.
All of these symptoms can be treated with a low cholesterol diet plan with low cholesterol foods, a diet plan full of foods to lower cholesterol, an exercise plan with plenty of fat burning exercises, and a change in your lifestyle. Preventing these high cholesterol symptoms from worsening is an important part of staying healthy, happy, and, most importantly, not dead from heart attack or stroke.
Sumit De is involved in healthcare market research since 2009. He is passionate about helping people with the right information. He has written many articles on hair care along with other health care topics.