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Facts about Fats

In Health, Healthcare, Medicine on June 5, 2012 at 8:00 am

“Did you see how much cholesterol this coconut milk has?”, my wife asked me while walking down the aisle for Asian food one day. She is one paranoid personality when it comes to cholesterol in food items. At times she starts an argument about saturated and unsaturated fats although she has no clue as to what they are. And then comes the challenging part to
explain her the dynamics of cholesterol. But I enjoy those discussions as I learn a lot with the curiosity of hers.
Cholesterol is a part of lipids which is the scientific term for fats in the blood. At adequate
levels, lipids perform important cellular functions in your body, but can cause health problems if they are present in excess.
Concerning lipids are mainly cholesterol and triglycerides.
Hyperlipidemia, along with diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), positive family history, and smoking are all major risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Who gets it? obese, smokers,and those who don’t like to get up and exercise. Medical  conditions that cause   hyperlipidemia include diseases like diabetes, kidney disease,pregnancy and underactive thyroid gland. You can also inherit hyperlipidemia. The cause may be genetic if you have a normal body weight and other members of your family
have hyperlipidemia. You have a greater chance of developing hyperlipidemia if you are a man older than age 45
or a woman older than age 55. If a close relative had early heart disease (father or brother affected before age 55, mother or sister affected before age 65), you also have an increased risk.
Symptoms: None. You would never know it until you get adverse effects because of that. So why do I care? You better care about this because you could be the one getting a heart attack or a stroke before even knowing whats happening. Hyperlipidemia causes atherosclerosis which is hardening of the blood vessels, thereby compromising blood supply
to major organs like heart and brain.
So how do I know if I have high lipids? Blood test. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that people get this test every 5 years after age 20. Your blood test will show your physician the levels of different lipids in your blood which will help him decide how aggressively you need to be treated. Most blood tests measure levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), total cholesterol (LDL plus HDL), and triglycerides. Current national guidelines suggest a LDL cholesterol goal of <100 mg/dl for individuals already with heart disease or
diabetes, <130 mg/dl for those with moderate risk of heart disease, and <160 mg/dl for everyone else. Your doctor can calculate your risk score for heart disease. This score can then be used to determine whether you need to start taking medications to lower your LDL cholesterol.
Although there are no firm treatment targets for HDL cholesterol or triglycerides, most experts agree that optimal HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are >40 mg/dl and <200 mg/dl, respectively.
What’s the treatment? Lifestyle modifications is the most important step to lower the lipid levels. I know some people don’t like to do it, but you need to get up and do some exercise. When it comes to eating right and exercising, there is no “I’ll start tomorrow.” Tomorrow is disease. Change your dietary habits. You should replace foods high in
saturated fats(the majority come mainly from animal sources, including meat and dairy products) with foods high in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fats(vegetable oil, fish, nuts, legumes, etc). A humorous patient once said to me, “They claim red meat is bad for you. But I never saw a sick-looking tiger.” I wish I had an answer to his argument.
Stop smoking. Smoking can lower HDL, narrow your blood vessels, and injure your blood vessel walls. All of these effects can speed hardening of the arteries.Try to lose some weight. Therapeutic lifestyle changes can lower total cholesterol by 10 to 20 percent in some people. More commonly, however, people with hyperlipidemia experience a 2 to 6 percent reduction from TLC. If TLC doesn’t help, its time to start some medication which your doctor will decide for you. Lipid-lowering medications include Statin drugs (which prevent your liver from manufacturing cholesterol), Bile acid sequestrants, (which prevent your body from reabsorbing the cholesterol in bile. Bile is a liquid secreted into your small
intestine that helps you digest dietary fats), Fibrates and Niacin.
So, its never too late. Lets work on it. Remember, the best six doctors anywhere are sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise and diet.

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