What causes high cholesterol and how to prevent it

Cholesterol is an essential type of fat in your blood which is required for the everyday functioning of your body. These types of fat (also known as lipids) are created by the liver and they can also be found in certain types of foods.

Having high blood cholesterol means that there is a build-up of these fatty substances in your blood. The build-up of this type of lipid can lead to negative effects on your health, such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

There are a variety of factors which can contribute to the development of high blood cholesterol:

Lifestyle Causes

Lifestyle is a major contributing factor to high cholesterol and making changes to your lifestyle is one of the most effective ways of regulating the cholesterol levels in your blood.

There are a variety of lifestyle factors which can contribute to the development of high cholesterol.

Diet – Your diet is very important for maintaining a healthy level of cholesterol. If you have an imbalanced diet that is lacking the right amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals, or if you have too much saturated fat, it can cause the development of high cholesterol.

Exercise – The amount of exercise that you do can affect your cholesterol. A lack of exercise can increase the level of bad cholesterol and decrease the level of good cholesterol. The most effective type of exercise for reducing cholesterol is a combination of aerobic and resistance training as it can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Obesity – Those that are overweight or obese have a higher chance of developing high cholesterol due to the increase of triglycerides. The increase of this type of fat leads to lower levels of ‘good cholesterol’.

Alcohol Consumption – The amount of alcohol that you consume also correlates to cholesterol. If you regularly drink large quantities of alcohol, then it can increase your cholesterol levels.

Smoking – Smoking is known to cause numerous health conditions and high cholesterol is one of them. There is a chemical called Acrolein in cigarettes which prevents the ‘good cholesterol’ from being transported to the liver.

Your Health Conditions

Underlying health conditions can sometimes contribute to the cause of high cholesterol, which could lead to a higher risk of damage to your health if not treated. You may have an underlying health condition which requires treatment which can benefit your cholesterol levels. The conditions that are known to cause high cholesterol are:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease

Other Factors

There are numerous factors which can be responsible for causing high blood cholesterol and sometimes there may even be combinations of factors. There are also a few fixed factors which cannot be changed that might increase the risk of high blood cholesterol.

Age – As you get older, your cholesterol levels will naturally rise. With age, you are more likely to experience the narrowing of your arteries which can lead to higher cholesterol. It is recommended to have regular check-ups as you get older as high cholesterol often comes with no symptoms.

Gender – Males are generally at higher risk of developing high cholesterol, but tends to level off after the age of 50. For women, their cholesterol levels generally remain low until their menopausal stage, where the cholesterol levels may rise to the same levels as males.

Ethnic Group – No ethnicity is immune to high cholesterol but there is a possible connection between race and cholesterol. It’s possible that your ethnic group can be a cause for developing high cholesterol later on in life.

Family History – Your family history could be a causing factor for high cholesterol. If you have a close relative that has had a stroke or coronary heart disease, then you are more likely to have high cholesterol. If someone in your family has familial hypercholesterolemia then this could also contribute to the health condition.

It’s very important to understand that there are several factors that can contribute to the increase of cholesterol levels and sometimes it may be caused by a combination of factors.