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Cholesterol is an essential fatty acid used to make cell membranes and synthesize hormones, like testosterone and estrogen, and vitamin D. Your body gets cholesterol from the foods you eat and creates it in your liver.
Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need, so cholesterol from your diet is not required and may cause problems.
The two types of cholesterol are low-density lipoprotein (LDL)¹ and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is considered the “bad” form of cholesterol as it contains more fats and fewer proteins than HDL.
Dangerously high cholesterol occurs when the amount of cholesterol in your blood exceeds normal levels.
When this happens, the wax-like LDL cholesterol can begin to deposit inside your arteries as a hard plaque, thus stiffening and constricting your blood vessels.
This is bad because the plaque can block blood flow, preventing your tissues from receiving the oxygen, nutrients, and immune support they need to stay healthy.
Dangerously high cholesterol should be avoided through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and perhaps medication.
The short answer is no, high cholesterol won’t make you tired, but there’s much more to the story. While high cholesterol won’t directly make you tired, excessive tiredness or fatigue can be a symptom of high cholesterol-related conditions like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, and other issues related to poor blood circulation.
Plaques in your arteries cause them to narrow and stiffen, thus reducing blood flow and raising blood pressure.
High blood pressure from plaques in your arteries can cause your body to work harder to get regular tasks done. This can lead to feelings of tiredness.
If you suffer from excessive fatigue, you should talk to your doctor, who may have a blood test done to see if your cholesterol is high. They can also provide medications to help control the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of strokes. A stroke occurs when plaque clogs the arteries in your brain, preventing your brain from getting the blood flow needed to stay healthy.
When this happens, portions of your brain can stop working temporarily or permanently, depending on how much blood can still get through and how long the brain tissues are deprived of the blood flow they need.
A temporary stroke, referred to as a ‘transient ischemic attack’² or TIA, is the most common form of stroke and is a warning sign of possible future complications.
If your doctor has advised that this has happened to you, it is time to make changes to improve your health, like changing your diet or incorporating some exercise into your daily routine.
No, high cholesterol won’t directly make you feel bad. High cholesterol itself doesn’t have any physical symptoms.
While high cholesterol won’t directly make you feel ill, it can cause problems that will make you feel unwell. Elevated cholesterol levels are associated with diseases like stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and other circulation problems.
These conditions can lead to a general feeling of unwellness (malaise), excessive tiredness, and potentially serious damage to your body tissues should it get bad enough.
High cholesterol hasn’t been clearly linked with erectile dysfunction (ED) in humans, but it does affect circulation, which may, in turn, contribute to problems with achieving an erection.
Blood circulation is vital for erections, so limitations on the circulation may slow or prevent an erection. A healthy lifestyle, including exercise and a good diet, can reduce cholesterol levels and promote healthy circulation.
Exercise will also increase your body’s ability to pump blood which is believed to aid with erection quality.
The risk of developing high cholesterol depends on your genetics and lifestyle. This risk can be managed by employing a healthy diet and smart lifestyle choices.
A healthy diet consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables, legumes like chickpeas, peanuts, beans, whole grains, and a range of nuts and seeds. Limiting the amount of red meat and dairy you consume is also a good idea as these can contribute to elevated cholesterol.
Consumption of alcohol has also been tied to higher levels of cholesterol.
Avoiding smoking is also a good idea to keep your cholesterol under control. Plant-based foods can help provide you with the nutrients, healthy fats, and beneficial fiber your body needs while assisting with maintaining healthy levels of LDL and HDL.
Exercise is a vital tool to fight against high cholesterol. Combined with a healthy diet, exercise will help lower “bad” LDL levels in your blood.
Walking, running, and cycling are good types of exercise to help fight high cholesterol. Low-impact forms of exercise like swimming and rowing are great ways to begin lowering your cholesterol levels through physical activity.
If your doctor finds that you have high cholesterol, they may prescribe medications like statins to help keep it under control.
Statins are a class of drugs commonly prescribed to people experiencing high levels of LDL in their blood.
Statins help lower the level of lipids (fats) in your blood by interrupting the process of your liver, creating cholesterol. This will reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol floating around your body in your bloodstream.
This promotes healthy blood lipid levels, lowering the risk of plaque development and the risk of strokes or heart disease. Statins typically have mild side effects, but you should never take them without talking to your doctor first.
There is a new kid on the block regarding reducing high cholesterol in your blood. PCSK9 is a type of protein in the liver associated with high cholesterol levels.
PCSK9 proteins are part of the process of your liver creating cholesterol. PCSK9-inhibitors are a class of drug that inhibits or deactivates the PCSK9 proteins in your body, thereby interrupting the synthesis of cholesterol.
Your doctor may prescribe one of these drugs if you suffer from high cholesterol or are at risk of developing this condition.
The risk of high cholesterol increases based on diet, exercise, genetics, and lifestyle choices. Your doctor should check your cholesterol at least once every five years if you are older than 20 and are at low risk of high cholesterol.
If you are at risk of developing high cholesterol, perhaps due to lack of exercise, obesity, or family history, you should have your cholesterol checked more often.
The only way to test for high cholesterol³ is through a simple blood test called a “lipid profile.” Your doctor or phlebotomist will draw a small amount of blood and send it to the lab for analysis, providing you with your results in a few days. These tests are very routine and are unlikely to cause you any problems.
If you are experiencing chest pains, difficulty breathing, severe headaches, or loss of speech or mobility, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. They will test your blood and screen you for other potential causes of these symptoms.
Cholesterol is an essential fatty acid that your body uses to create and regulate hormones, build cellular membranes, and synthesize vitamin D.
There are two types of cholesterol: good (HDL) and bad (LDL). High levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) can lead to plaque being deposited onto the walls of your arteries, thus potentially blocking the flow of blood. These blockages can contribute to occurrences of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and other diseases related to poor circulation.
You can reduce high cholesterol or avoid it entirely by employing a good exercise routine of walking or running and making sure you eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Avoid fatty foods and other unhealthy behaviors like drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and smoking cigarettes or cigars.
Your doctor can test for high cholesterol using a simple blood test. Should they find any problems, they may prescribe you medication to help lower them. This will enable you to make healthy choices and live a long and happy life.
Physiology, cholesterol (2022)
High cholesterol: Overview (2006)
Statins: pros and cons (2018)
PCSK9 inhibitors (2022)
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