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Cholesterol is found in cell walls and cell membranes, almost everywhere in the body. It is a waxy, fat-like substance, which is necessary to produce many hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids. Though it is required for various metabolic processes, a very small amount of cholesterol in blood is enough to meet the needs. It is produced by the body mainly in the liver, and also comes from the food (animal products) we consume.

Normal Levels

There are two types of cholesterol: HDL (high density lipoprotein) or "good" cholesterol, and LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) or "bad" cholesterol. HDL does not allow LDL to get lodged into your arterial walls. High LDL levels can block your arteries, and thus can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. According to the cholesterol range chart, the normal level is considered less than 200 mg/dL. HDL should be 60 mg/dl or higher while LDL should be in the range of 100-129 mg/dl. A cholesterol level between 200-239 mg/dl is considered as borderline high, whereas a level which is more than 240 mg/dl is considered high.

Symptoms

Actually, this condition neither exhibits any symptoms nor does it make you feel sick. It is generally detected in routine medical checkup. However, certain conditions indicate severely elevated cholesterol levels. They are:
  • Chest pain
  • A heart disease
  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Arcus senilis: Grayish-white ring around the cornea
  • Corneal arcus: Cholesterol deposits in the eye
  • Xanthelasmata: Yellow patches around the eyelids
  • Xanthomas: Fatty deposits under the skin, usually observed on the elbows, joints, tendons, knees, hands, feet, or buttocks
  • Atherosclerosis: Due to insufficient blood supply to the organs, symptoms such as leg pain while walking or running, angina, reduced heart function, or other heart diseases may be experienced.
  • Migraine with aura: A severe headache with prior symptoms of dizziness, ringing in your ears, and sensitivity to light
The symptoms in women are usually noticed after the age of 55, while they are observed in men who are below the age of 55. In general, aging increases the risk of high cholesterol. Obesity, lack of physical activity, excessive consumption of junk food, family history, excessive stress, and alcohol abuse are also some of the contributing factors to this condition.

If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, you need to check the cholesterol levels by performing a simple blood test. Certain lifestyle and dietary changes can help alleviate the symptoms of this condition. Therefore, you need to increase your physical activity, and reduce the amount of saturated and trans fats in your diet.

You may consult your healthcare practitioner for proper medication to increase your HDL level. Also, it is necessary to monitor your cholesterol levels regularly by performing the specific blood tests under the guidance of your physician.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.