Medical Conditions And High Cholesterol

Cholesterol-related diseases abound. Having high cholesterol may lead directly to a life-threatening condition called atherosclerosis. Furthermore, high cholesterol levels exacerbate the problems associated with other serious conditions, such as fatty liver, chronic kidney disease and diabetes. In all cases, you can avoid life-changing, and possibly life-ending, consequences by taking steps to reduce your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL cholesterol.

Atherosclerosis

High cholesterol levels are the major cause of atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood become “stuck” to the walls of your arteries. The more cholesterol you have in your blood, the faster this buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries occurs.

Eventually, the arteries may become so narrow that blood cannot adequately pass through them. When this happens in the arteries that supply the heart with blood (the coronary arteries), you develop coronary heart disease and have a much higher chance of suffering a heart attack. Atherosclerosis also increases your chance of experiencing a stroke and other cholesterol-related diseases.

Diabetes and High Cholesterol

Another condition can exacerbate the problem of high cholesterol: diabetes. If you have diabetes, you may be at risk for higher-than-normal LDL cholesterol levels and lower-than-normal HDL cholesterol levels. As a result, you’re more likely to develop atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. If you have diabetes and high cholesterol, you may need to reduce your intake of foods that are high in saturated fat.

Liver Disease, Kidney Disease and Cholesterol

For people with chronic kidney disease, cholesterol problems exacerbate an already increased risk of heart disease. If you have kidney disease, you should have your cholesterol levels checked regularly and strive to avoid excessive consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol.

High cholesterol can also affect liver function. A study published in the journal “Cell Metabolism” (Mari et. al, 2006) implicated cholesterol in the progression of fatty liver disease, which, if unaddressed, can lead to serious and potentially fatal consequences.

If you have any of these cholesterol-related diseases, you may be able to reduce your risk of complications and improve your health by taking a few steps, including:

  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising more often
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking.

You can also talk to your doctor about ways to manage high cholesterol and your other health conditions.

Resources

American Heart Association. (2010). Cholesterol abnormalities & diabetes. Retrieved January 13, 2011, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Diabetes/WhyDiabetesMatters/Cholesterol-Abnormalities-Diabetes_UCM_313868_Article.jsp

Mari, M., Caballero, F., Colell, A., Morales, A., Caballeria, J., Fernandez, A.,…Garcia-Ruiz, C. (2006). Mitochondrial free cholesterol loading sensitizes to TNF- and Fas-mediated steatohepatitis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16950136

Mayo Clinic website. (2010). High cholesterol. Retrieved January 12, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-cholesterol/DS00178

Medical News Today. (2006). Cholesterol implicated in progression of fatty liver disease. Retrieved January 13, 2011, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/51273.php

National Kidney Foundation. (2011). Cholesterol and chronic kidney disease. Retrieved January 13, 2011, from http://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/cholesterol.cfm