According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 95 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels greater than 200 mg/dL. Total blood cholesterol is the measurement of your low-density (LDL), high-density (HDL) and triglycerides (VLDL).
(Wondering what to expect during your first scan? This free guide will walk you through the process step by step.)
LDL cholesterol, also known as the “bad” cholesterol causes buildup on the walls of your arteries and increases your chances of getting heart disease (among other ailments). To avoid this, you generally want to have a total cholesterol level less than 200 mg/dL.
High cholesterol is often associated with an elevated risk of heart disease. However, it can also cause other diseases like diabetes, kidney failure and liver disease. Because cholesterol doesn’t have any visible symptoms, many people are unaware their levels are high.
Today, we’ll be shedding light on eight diseases affected by high cholesterol and how you can detect (and even prevent) them early on.
1. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also regarded as hypertension is closely linked to high cholesterol. When the arteries narrow due to plaque and calcium build-up, the heart strains while trying to pump blood throughout the body.
As a result, this raises your blood pressure. Though this number may fluctuate for some people, having chronically high blood pressure may further your risk for heart disease.
Though diabetes isn’t caused by cholesterol, patients with the disease often struggle with balancing their HDL and LDL levels. The LDL particles can stick to their arteries and cause damage to blood vessel walls more easily.
As LDL remains in the bloodstream over a longer period of time, it can lead to low HDL levels, high triglyceride levels and the ongoing formation of plaque.
3. Peripheral Vascular Disease
High cholesterol has also been associated with peripheral vascular disease, which takes place in blood vessels outside the heart and brain. Fatty deposits build up along the artery walls and can affect your blood circulation. This often leads to the swelling of the legs and feet.
4. Kidney Failure
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases has also discovered a link between kidney failure and high levels of cholesterol. When the force of blood flow is high and there’s a blockage present, blood vessels will stretch to allow for more circulation.
This eventually leads to the weakening of blood vessels throughout the body as well as those in the kidneys. If your kidneys’ blood vessels are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body – causing your blood pressure to rise even more.
5. Heart Disease
One of the most common diseases stemming from high cholesterol is heart disease. If your levels are too high, it can build up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, this creates a build-up of plaque and causes atherosclerosis.
As your arteries narrow, blood flow to your heart will slow. This often results in chest pain, also known as angina, or a heart attack if the blood vessel is completely blocked.
Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque and fatty deposits clog your arteries. Arteries carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body and feature a thin layer of cells to keep them smooth and allow for blood flow.
As plaque builds up, the walls of your blood vessel thicken, narrowing the channel within the artery and reducing blood flow. If a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked, this cuts off necessary oxygen and nutrients, resulting in a stroke.
7. Liver Disease
Research has also shown a link between cholesterol and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A function of the liver is to break down cholesterol. If it’s not working properly, it can cause cholesterol to build-up within the body.
NALD can increase the risk of other health problems such as stroke and diabetes. However, if it’s detected at an early stage, it’s possible to treat it through dieting to lose weight and lowering cholesterol.
8. Alzheimer’s Disease
A recent study led by researchers at the University of Cambridge concluded that cholesterol may play a significant role in the development of Alzheimer’s. The cholesterol acts as a catalyst for clusters of protein, also known as amyloid-beta, to form in the brain – a key factor contributing to Alzheimer’s disease. As the amyloid-beta aggregates, it forms into plaques that affect brain function.
High cholesterol can put you at risk for more than just heart disease. This is why it’s important to monitor your total cholesterol (the good and the bad).
Remember, early detection is key in the treatment and even prevention of these diseases. If your total cholesterol level is above 200, we recommend scheduling a full body scan and working closely with your doctor to lower these levels.
If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, making changes in your lifestyle is a great first step in lowering your risk of other diseases. Even modest changes now can help you treat and prevent medical challenges later on.
For more information about our full body scans and how they can help you detect an extensive range of diseases early on, we invite you to reach out to our team today at (918) 879-6161.
Feeling nervous about your first scan?
It can be intimidating walking into your first appointment. However, our GE Revolution CT Scanner is the fastest, easiest and most accurate way to identify irregularities (and you’ll be glad you did it sooner rather than later).
In this free guide, we walk you through everything you need to know before your first scan. To access your copy, click below!