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Cholesterol Disorders

Cholesterol is an essential fat that helps the body in producing new cells and hormones such as cortisol and estrogen. There are three basic forms of cholesterol- high density lipoproteins(HDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL) and very low- density lipoproteins (VLDL). LDL and VLDL are also referred to as the ‘bad cholesterol’ as they contribute to the formation of plaque in the blood vessels of the heart and cause heart disease. HDL or the ‘good cholesterol’ transports LDL and VLDL to the liver where it is broken down.

Cholesterol disorders can be broadly classified as hyperlipidemia (increase in the cholesterol levels) or hypolipidemia (decrease in the cholesterol) respectively. Cholesterol is primarily synthesized in the liver and is also derived from dietary sources. Hyperlipidemia results in fat deposition in the blood vessels which causes narrowing of arteries. This may lead to heart attack and stroke. On contrary, low blood cholesterol levels also increase the risk of certain complications such as cancer and depression.

There are no specific signs and symptoms of cholesterol disorders. However, people with cholesterol disorders may have xanthomas which are fatty skin eruptions that commonly develop in joints, feet, hands, buttock or under the eye. People with a family history of stroke or heart attack or other cardiac disorders are at an increased risk of developing cholesterol disorders.

Risk factors

The risk factors of cholesterol disorders include:

  1. Cigarette smoking
  2. Alcohol consumption
  3. Obesity
  4. Unhealthy diet
  5. Sedentary lifestyle
  6. Age (Men above 45 and women above 55 years)
  7. High blood pressure
  8. Diabetes
  9. Family history of heart disease
  10. Pre-existing heart disease
  11. Medications such as thiazide diuretics, betablockers and corticosteroids

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of cholesterol disorders should be conducted for every 4-6 years starting at the age of 20. However, people with high risk of cholesterol disorders should undergo lipid profile test at least once annually.

Lipid profile: The test is performed by collecting blood sample of the individual. The samples are then evaluated for total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Ideally, your blood sample for this test should be taken after 8-12 hours of fasting.

Total cholesterol Desirable Borderline High
200 mg/dl 200-239 mg/dl 240 mg/dl and above

LDL cholesterol

LDL cholesterol Range Interpretation
Below 70 mg/dl Optimal for people with heart disease and diabetes.
Below 100 mg/dl Optimal in case of heart disease.
100-129 mg/dl High in patients with heart disease.

Optimal in patients without heart disease.

130-159 mg/dl High in case of heart disease.

Borderline in case without heart disease

160-189 mg/dl Very high in case of heart disease.

High in the case without heart disease.

190 g/dl and above Very high

HDL cholesterol

HDL cholesterol Poor Better Best
Below 40 mg/dl (Men)

Below 50 mg/dl (Women)

50-59 mg/dl  60 mg/dl and above

Triglycerides

Triglycerides Desirable Borderline High Very high
150 mg/dl 150-199 mg/dl 200-499 mg/dl 500 mg/dl and above

Tests for complications of hyperlipidemia

  • Atherosclerosis: Narrowing of blood vessels due to the deposition of fat in the walls of the blood vessels obstructs the blood flow. This can be assessed with the help of angiogram, Doppler ultrasound.
  • Heart disease: The tests for heart diseases include blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, stress test, chest x-ray, nuclear stress test, coronary angiography, and CT scan.
  • Stroke: The tests for stroke include MRI/CT scan, electrocardiogram, cerebral angiogram, carotid ultrasound and blood tests.
  • High blood pressure: This can be assessed using a sphygmomanometer
  • Loss of sensation or numbness in the lower extremities: Sensory examination of the lower extremities would be helpful to assess loss of sensation or numbness.

Treatment of cholesterol disorders

The treatment for cholesterol disorders includes medications to lower the blood cholesterol levels such as statins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, bile acid reducing resins and other medications. These medications are helpful in maintaining optimal cholesterol levels in the blood that decrease the risk of side effects.

Prevention

  1. Dietary modifications: Avoid intake of high-fat diet and trans-fats in daily meal. Intake of fruits and vegetables rich in fiber, whole grain foods, mono-saturated fats help to lower the bad cholesterol levels and increases the good cholesterol levels.
  2. Exercise: A regular exercise and physical fitness help in maintaining optimum cholesterol levels in the body.
  3. Early diagnosis: People with the risk of cardiac disorders are recommended for annual health check-ups for early detection and treatment of cholesterol disorders.

Why choose Apollo Diagnostics?

 We have the expertise of 34 + years in healthcare. Our labs are equipped with EQUAS (External Quality Assurance System) and loaded with full automated machines to ensure error free reports, with a quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price. For your convenience, we offer free home collection of samples.

 For appointments, please call 4444 2424.

Reference

  1. Cholesterol. https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/cholesterol/tab/test/. Accessed on 25/10/2017
  2. High cholesterol. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350806. Accessed on 25/10/2017
  3. Cholesterol levels: Can it be low too? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/cholesterol-level/faq-20057952. Accessed on 25/10/2017
  4. Stroke. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350119. Accessed on 25/10/2017
  5. Angina. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/angina/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20031194. Accessed on 25/10/2017
  6. Arterioscleriosis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arteriosclerosis-atherosclerosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350575. Accessed on 25/10/2017


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