Symptoms of high cholesterol don’t normally exist alone, but always accompany other potential health risks. A high cholesterol level considered all by itself doesn’t tell the doctor very much. It’s only one factor among many that is used in assessing your overall cardiovascular health.
You can have signs of high cholesterol and still not experience any symptoms of high cholesterol. In other words you could have a clinical finding of elevated cholesterol and you could still feel perfectly fine.
On the other hand, outright high cholesterol symptoms – the kind that make you feel anything but normal, are really telling you some other health issue is going on beneath the surface.
High cholesterol – symptoms
Generally, most people come into the doctor’s office seeking relief for chronic conditions. Most complaints such as tiredness, fatigue and low energy, difficulty sleeping, muscle soreness or aches and pains of the joints, digestive problems and the like are vague, non-differentiated symptoms. They could suggest almost innumerable possible disorders and can baffle your doctor when diagnosing your problem.
If you have been feeling a “pressure” or “squeezing” or a sensation like “someone is sitting on your chest”, this could be a primary symptom associated with coronary heart disease. In addition to the reported pressure, other symptoms can include nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, and heart palpitations. Symptoms such as numbness, coldness or tingling in the lower extremities, together with sores or ulcers that don’t heal normally may suggest a narrowing or clogging of the blood vessels that bring blood flow to the legs. These are not just symptoms of high cholesterol only but may indicate a degenerative peripheral vascular disease.
Types of cholesterol
There are two basic types of cholesterol – the so-called “good” cholesterol ( high density lipoproteins, HDL) and the “bad” cholesterol (low-density, or LDLs). The ratio of good-to-bad is an important factor.
But there is an essential point to be made. The low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet craze of the last few decades has seen many people lower their total cholesterol but at a cost of lowering their good HDL cholesterol as well. Meanwhile, triglycerides – a form of fat circulating in the blood – is also higher in much of the American population. Elevated triglycerides are as big of a risk factor as unfavorable cholesterol ratios and contribute to clogged arteries.
In choosing your diet to lower cholesterol, it might be well to move toward the South Beach Diet way of thinking – fresh vegetables, fish, and lean meats are the staples of that program. Further, learn to choose the “right fats and the right carbs”.
The “right carbs” in diets to lower cholesterol are provided through eating plenty of salad and leafy greens and fresh vegetables, while trying to minimize pastas, bread and cereal grains, or refined, sugary and starchy foods. The low(er) carb strategies for weight loss invariably include the type of food that lowers cholesterol as well.
As to the fats, restrict or eliminate the trans fats found in partially hydrogenated oils and deep fat frying, and avoid highly refined and processed polyunsaturated oils. Natural, cold-pressed oils like sesame and olive oils are best. Including dietary sources of Omega 3 essential fatty acids is a key component in any diet.