Five Things That Could Be Adversely Affecting Your Cholesterol Levels

burger and fries
Jill Chen/Stocksy United

High cholesterol is a condition that often sneaks up on us. There are usually no symptoms associated with it, yet it could contribute to causing cardiovascular disease if you ignore it. High cholesterol stems from either something wrong with the way cholesterol is being made in your body, certain things you are doing in your everyday life, or a combination of both.

The liver is the main organ of the body that makes cholesterol.

Although having high cholesterol levels is not healthy, your body needs still needs some cholesterol to perform many biological functions, such as making hormones (like estrogen or testosterone) and providing structure to cells. In fact, your liver makes most of the cholesterol your body needs on a daily basis.

However, cholesterol levels can also be affected by outside factors, too - including your diet and certain lifestyle factors.

Although there are different types of cholesterol, there are two main types of cholesterol that are commonly considered when assessing your risk for cardiovascular disease: LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. Studies have shown that an increase in LDL cholesterol and lowered HDL cholesterol could raise your risk of developing cardiovascular disease if left untreated.

Although there are many factors that can cause your cholesterol levels to go out of range, the good news is that some of these factors are unhealthy habits that are within your control.

Unfortunately, there are some factors you may have no control over. In these cases, there are cholesterol-lowering medications your healthcare provider can prescribe that can bring your cholesterol levels back within a healthy range. 

The following factors could be adversely affecting your cholesterol levels:

You aren't eating healthy.

A diet that is high in saturated fat, trans fat, and refined sugars can all adversely affect your cholesterol levels by causing your LDL cholesterol levels to increase and your HDL cholesterol levels to decrease. The American Heart Association recommends that only about 5 to 6 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Refined sugars and trans fats - which are introduced into various foods,  including cookies, cakes, and chips - should be limited or avoided entirely. Whenever in doubt, always check the nutrition label on food packages for the amount of each of these items.

You don't have certain medical conditions under control.

If left untreated, some medical conditions may also adversely affect your LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol levels. These conditions include:

  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • hypothyroidism
  • kidney disease
  • metabolic disease

In most cases, addressing these underlying medical conditions will bring your cholesterol levels back within healthy levels.

 

Your medications are increasing your cholesterol.

Some of the medications that you are taking for other medical conditions may also cause a slight elevation in your LDL cholesterol levels. These include beta blockers and diuretics, which help lower your blood pressure, and birth control pills. In some cases, this elevation is only temporary. Your healthcare provider will monitor your lipid profile if you taking a medication that could adversely affect your cholesterol levels.

You've developed some bad habits.

There are other things that you are doing in your everyday life that could be causing your cholesterol levels to be too high. Certain lifestyle factors that could be sabotaging your cholesterol levels include:

These poor lifestyle habits could cause your LDL cholesterol levels to increase to some degree - and in some cases - also lower HDL cholesterol. Making positive changes in your lifestyle by eliminating these unhealthy habits could improve your lipid profile - and your heart health.

It's in your genes.

Increased LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol, or a combination of both may also be inherited from one or both of your parents. Early onset cholesterol diseases have been most studied and linked to mutations in the receptor for LDL or apolipoprotein B. There are still studies underway to identify other defective genes that may play a role in the development of high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease -especially in cases where abnormal cholesterol levels appear later on in life. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease, you should disclose this to your healthcare provider. He or she can periodically monitor you to detect any changes in your cholesterol levels.

Sources:

Dipiro JT, Talbert RL. Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiological Approach, 9th ed 2014.

Continue Reading