Minimal intake of animal fats, low salt diet prevent hypercholesterolemia — Akinyinka
Dr. Modupe Akinyinka, a senior lecturer and Consultant Public Health Physician at the Department of Community Health and Primary Health Care, Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), examined hypercholesterolemia; its prevention and treatment.
What is hypercholesterolemia?
Hypercholesterolemia is a silent killer, but many people do not pay attention to it. It is also called high cholesterol, which is the presence of high level of cholesterol in the blood.
Cholesterol is a type of fat in the body. It is important to the body that the liver and intestines make it from scratch. What is ‘bad’ about cholesterol is not the substance itself, but how much of it that is in the bloodstream. In fact, we cannot live without it.
What are the major factors that predispose one to it?
The risk factors for hypercholesterolemia include diet, obesity, inherited (genetic) diseases (familial hypercholesterolemia), or the presence of other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and an under-active thyroid. Other risk factors include lack of exercise, smoking and increasing age.
However, high blood cholesterol is capable of occurring with no family history, and has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect if one has it.
Nonetheless, long-standing elevation of blood cholesterol can lead to (hardening of arteries) and plaque formation. This may later result in chest pain, calf pain, heart attacks and stroke, among others, depending on which blood vessels have been severely affected.
What lifestyle should be avoided to prevent this condition?
To prevent hypercholesterolemia, we should eat a low salt diet, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We should also limit the amount of animal fats and use plant fats, such as vegetable oil in moderation, lose extra kilogrammes of weight and maintain a healthy weight. There is also need to quit smoking, exercise on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes, drink alcohol in moderation, if at all, and manage stress.
Is there any age or gender that is more susceptible to the ailment?
One of the factors that bring about the ailment is increasing age. As people become older, susceptibility increases, which may be more common in women.
What are the steps to take to create awareness of its effects?
Government can provide information about prevention of the condition and more facilities for physical exercise and weight control among the population. But the onus is on every individual to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
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