Hypercholesterolaemia

October 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog members, General, Tabitha's Articles

Otherwise known as ‘high cholesterol’, this disorder is actually multi-facetted, and is treated quite differently, according to the type of cholesterol problem. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, there is more ‘sticking’ to the insides of the blood vessels (building an atherogenic plaque), and ongoing build-up of lots of sticky cholesterol can lead to the blood vessel ‘clogging up’, and preventing blood from flowing smoothly through it. This can eventually lead to angina (pain in the heart), heart attacks, strokes, aneurisms and thromboses.

Total cholesterol should be less than 5.0mmol/L, but we don’t usually just look at the total cholesterol. You see, the whole cholesterol profile needs to be examined closely and understood, before correct treatment can begin. Total cholesterol is made up of the following:

  • LDL cholesterol (a bad type of cholesterol that the liver produces). (It stands for Low Density Lipoprotein).
  • VLDL (another bad type of cholesterol that the liver produces, but which is converted to other types and so is often not monitored). It stands for Very Low Density Lipoprotein.
  • TG (a very sticky type of cholesterol that the liver produces, especially with people who have a fat belly). Stands for Triglycerides.
  • HDL (a very good cholesterol that helps to ‘clean up’ and remove bad cholesterol from the vessels). Stands for High Density Lipoprotein. (A silly way to remember that this is a good cholesterol is to think of the ‘H’ standing for ‘Hoover’ – because it sort of vacuums up the bad cholesterol from the blood!)

Within this umbrella term ‘Hypercholesterolaemia’, there are many types of cholesterol problems:

  • Hypertriglyceridaemia (too high a level of triglycerides; one type of bad cholesterol)
  • Hyperlipoproteinaemia (usually referring to a high LDL another bad type of cholesterol)
  • Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (a disorder that is passed down by family genetics meaning that the liver is pre-programmed to produce too much LDL)
  • Low HDL (this is the ‘good’ cholesterol, and in many people a level that is too low means high risks of coronary heart disease).
  • High oxidation levels leading to vascular disease (this is where we have too many oxidants causing damage inside the blood vessels, leading to an all-round ‘sticky’ environment where fats in the blood can build up and cause a bottle-neck and clots in the vessels.

The treatment of all types of hypercholesterolaemia are individual, and concentrate on the individual’s risk factor – for instance someone with hypertriglyceridaemia but with high HDL levels would involve a very low alcohol, very low GI and very low fat diet combined with large doses of omega 3 supplementation and very little dietary cholesterol restriction! You see, dieticians no longer work with ‘blanket’ recommendations: research has shown us how to specifically treat the individual problems, without restricting the whole diet. Thus, quality of life is maintained whilst specific levels are reduced without feeling like your fun has ended!

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