Everything you wanted to know about cholesterol but were afraid to ask

Cholesterol is a fat-like organic substance that is part of cell membranes and is necessary for the functioning of every cell in the body. However, an excess of cholesterol in the body can be dangerous, since it is considered one of the reasons for the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases: coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, etc.

Most of the cholesterol necessary for the functioning of the body is synthesized in the liver, but it should be remembered that it also enters the body with food. In combination with genetic predispositions and physiological characteristics of the body, excessive consumption of foods rich in cholesterol leads to an increase in its level in the blood and the formation of surpluses that settle on the walls of blood vessels, forming atherosclerotic plaques. These formations narrow the lumen of the vessel and interfere with normal blood flow, making it difficult or completely blocking the nutrition of tissues and organs, and cause atherosclerosis – the cause of most cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and myocardial infarction, which, according to statistics, occupy a leading place among the causes of death.

The richest in cholesterol are saturated fats (meat, animal fat, egg yolk, dairy products) and trans fats (formed from heated vegetable fats, found in most manufactured finished products, margarines, baked goods, confectionery, etc.).

To know your total cholesterol level and control it, you can take a lipid profile analysis. This analysis is especially important for middle-aged men over 35 and patients at risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.

What does lipid profile analysis include?
Total cholesterol is the total cholesterol level in the blood.

LDL – low density lipoproteins. It is this type of cholesterol that is considered “bad” because of the proven link between high LDL cholesterol and the development of cardiovascular disease. The main goal of treatment for high cholesterol levels is to lower LDL cholesterol levels.

HDL – high density lipoproteins, sometimes called “good cholesterol”. Higher HDL levels have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. HDL helps remove some of the cholesterol from the blood, returning it to the liver. You should strive to ensure that the level of HDL is above 1.55 mmol / L. This is especially important for patients with cardiovascular diseases.

Triglycerides are fat particles that increase blood levels in conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes and obesity.
Alcohol abuse and certain medications can also increase triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels (over 1.7 mmol / L) mean a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (atherogenic coefficient, also known as CA) is an important indicator of the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Ideally, this figure should not exceed 3.5.

How to prepare for a lipid profile test
Lipid profile analysis is one of the options for a biochemical blood test, however, in order to obtain a reliable result, you should prepare more carefully for this test.

To pass a clinical blood test and assess the level of total cholesterol, it is enough not to eat for only 3 hours, however, indicators such as HDL, LDL, triglycerides are sensitive to food intake, and to obtain a reliable result, it is recommended to abstain from food for 10-12 hours immediately before taking blood. Also, before passing the lipid profile, it is recommended:

follow your usual regimen and diet for three weeks
refrain from drinking large amounts of alcohol 3 days before the test
immediately before taking the test, refrain from smoking
exercise as usual
inform your doctor about taking medications, as some medications may affect the lipid profile.
Who is at risk for atherosclerosis
Men over 35.
Overweight people (metabolic syndrome, obesity).
Smokers.
Patients with high blood pressure.
Women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
Patients with type 2 diabetes.
Patients whose close relatives have been diagnosed with atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.
Patients already suffering from atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.
Patients leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Alcohol abuse patients.