Hypercholesterolemia: Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Diet

Definition: Generally known as high cholesterol.

It occurs when there is too much cholesterol in the body. Cholesterol is a waxy, soft, fat-like substance that is a natural component of all cells in the body.

The body produces the cholesterol it needs, however, the added cholesterol, which comes from food, can cause harm.

High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease, myocardial infarction and stroke.

When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can create sticky deposits (called plaque) along the walls of the arteries, which can narrow or block the flow of blood to the brain, heart and other organs.

The normal range of cholesterol in whole blood is between 140 to 200 mg per deciliter (mg / dL). However, there are two types of cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol) and LDL (low density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol).

There is a third type of material in the blood called ” Triglycerides “. It also plays a role (in general, as triglyceride levels rise, the “good” HDL drops).

The laboratory test that determines the amounts of HDL, LDL and Triglycerides is known as Lipid Profile

Causes of hypercholesterolemia

In some cases, high cholesterol levels can be inherited, the liver can make too much cholesterol, or perhaps the body can not remove LDL from the blood efficiently.

High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides may be associated with other diseases, such as diabetes.

But high cholesterol is often caused by eating foods rich in saturated fats and not getting enough exercise.

High cholesterol is more common in people who are overweight or obese, a condition that affects nearly half of adults in the United States.

Risk factor’s

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Consume a diet high in saturated fats and trans fatty acids.
  • Not doing enough exercise.
  • Family history of heart disease.
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoke.
  • Diabetes.

Diagnosis of Hypercholesterolemia

Most people do not have any symptoms of high cholesterol. A blood test is the only way to check blood cholesterol levels.

Preventive care

Most people can reduce cholesterol levels by eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and losing excess weight.


A healthy diet can help you lose weight. The loss of only 5 or 10 kg can help reduce cholesterol.

Tips to eat a healthy diet and to help reduce bad cholesterol:

  • Reduce the consumption of saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit cholesterol in your diet.
  • Eat fish.
  • Exercise regularly

And also…

Eat phytosterols and stanols, these are found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and enriched food products, such as orange juice, yogurt, and salad dressing.

Increase the intake of foods rich in fiber, especially oats, barley and legumes, as well as fruits, vegetables and other whole grains.

Losing Weight, undoubtedly brings the best benefit

Excess weight increases the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. Even a weight loss of 5 to 10 kg can lower LDL cholesterol twice as much as diet alone.

Weight loss often results in lower levels of triglycerides and increases HDL. To maintain a healthy diet, you should make a gradual loss of weight, for example, lose weekly from ½ to 1 kg.

The drugs

If the LDL cholesterol level is still high, after changing the diet and exercise habits, the doctor can prescribe medications to reduce them.

If the cholesterol level is very high (more than 200 mg / dl), you can start drug therapy at the same time that a change in diet and exercise habits is made.

Medications usually used to treat high cholesterol include:

Statins : These are usually the drugs of choice, since they are easy to take and have few interactions with other drugs.

Side effects can include inflammation of the muscles, joint pain, upset stomach and liver damage.

Niacin (nicotinic acid) : In the form of a prescription, niacin is sometimes used to lower LDL cholesterol. It may be more effective in raising HDL cholesterol than other medications.

Side effects may include redness of the skin, upset stomach, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, and liver damage.

Bile acid sequestrants : These are used to treat high levels of LDL cholesterol. Common side effects include bloating, constipation, heartburn, and elevated triglycerides.