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The Symptoms and Risks of Familial Hypercholesterolemia

Hypercholesterolemia is a serious condition that affects over a million people in the United States today. Some people don’t even realize they have it until it’s too late. To learn more about the signs and symptoms of hypercholesterolemia, keep reading.

Understanding Cholesterol

In the last decade, science has made major strides in the study of cholesterol and how it works. Cholesterol plays several crucial roles in the body including hormone regulation and digestion. It’s also a major component of the protective membranes that surround your cells. High total cholesterol has always been a concern in the medical industry, but recent findings have helped doctors distinguish between good and bad cholesterol.

High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are considered good cholesterol while high levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) are bad. HDLs help the body dispose of bad cholesterol by carrying LDLs to the liver where they’re destroyed and passed from the body. High levels of LDL cholesterol contribution to atherosclerosis, a condition where fat deposits stick to arterial walls and restrict the flow of blood. Ideally, your HDL levels should be 60 mg/dL or higher while LDL level below 100 mg/dL is ideal. Your body needs both LDL and HDL to function but maintaining a healthy balance is a challenge for people with hypercholesterolemia.

Signs and Symptoms

Unfortunately, most patients with hypercholesterolemia don’t exhibit signs. For some, the first signs of trouble are chest pains, trouble breathing, and numbness in the hands or feet. Other patients can develop little white bumps around their eyes or on their hands and knees. These bumps are fatty deposits, and they usually indicate elevated levels of cholesterol. Pure or familial hypercholesterolemia is usually passed down from one generation to the next. If one of your parents had it, you’re more likely to develop hypercholesterolemia than your peers. The best way to find out if you’re at risk is to have your blood and cholesterol levels tested. If you have hypercholesterolemia, having your children screened at an early age is essential to help combat early effects of the disease.

Health Risks

If left unchecked, hypercholesterolemia can manifest in several ways. Patients with the diseases are more likely to suffer a heart attack. The narrowing of your arteries can cause blood clots that can cause a stroke as well as the loss of feeling in your extremities. You don’t have to be obese or sedentary to develop familial hypercholesterolemia but you can manage your condition with a diet that’s high is whole grains, and organic vegetables, and low in fats and processed foods.

If you or someone in your family is showing hypercholesterolemia symptoms, don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with your doctor or lipidologist today.

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