Is It Possible To Have Low Cholesterol?
Cholesterol problems are generally associated with high cholesterol. Indeed, high cholesterol makes you more susceptible to cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol, a fatty substance, can potentially lead to heart attacks and strokes by clogging arteries and preventing blood from flowing through the affected arteries.
Your cholesterol may be too low. However, this is much less common than high cholesterol. High cholesterol is strongly associated with heart disease, but low cholesterol is also a factor in other conditions such as cancer, depression and anxiety.
What difference does cholesterol make to your health? First, you need to understand what cholesterol is and what it does in your body.
What exactly is cholesterol?
As it relates to health issues, cholesterol is a necessary element for the human body. Cholesterol is necessary for the production of certain hormones. It is involved in the production of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Cholesterol also plays a role in the production of some of the substances needed to digest food.
Cholesterol circulates in the blood in the form of lipoproteins, which are small fat molecules encased in proteins. There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
LDL is sometimes referred to as “bad cholesterol”. HDL, or “good” cholesterol, helps carry LDL cholesterol out of the bloodstream and into the liver. The liver removes excess LDL cholesterol from the body.
The liver plays another important role in cholesterol. Most of the cholesterol is produced in the liver. The rest comes from what you eat. Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal foods such as eggs, meat, and poultry. It is not found in plants.
What are the dangers of low cholesterol?
High LDL levels can be lowered with medications such as statins, regular exercise, and a healthy diet. If your cholesterol levels are lowered for these reasons, this is usually not a problem. In fact, in most cases, low cholesterol is better than high cholesterol. If your cholesterol drops for no apparent reason, you should be careful and consult your health care provider.
The exact health effects of low cholesterol are still being studied, but researchers are concerned that low cholesterol levels appear to have a negative impact on mental health. If your cholesterol levels affect your mental state and vice versa, you may be prescribed antidepressants.
A 1999 Duke University study of healthy young women found that those with low cholesterol were more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Because cholesterol is involved in the production of hormones and vitamin D, researchers believe that low levels of cholesterol may affect brain health. Vitamin D is important for cell growth. If your brain cells are not healthy, you may suffer from anxiety and depression. The link between low cholesterol and mental health is still not fully understood and is being studied.
A study presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in 2012 revealed a possible link between low cholesterol and cancer risk. Processes that affect cholesterol levels may have an impact on cancer, but more research is needed on this issue.
Another concern with low cholesterol is women who may be pregnant. Low cholesterol during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of delivering a premature baby or a baby with low birth weight. If your cholesterol levels tend to be low, ask your doctor what you can do about it.
Symptoms of low cholesterol
For people with high LDL cholesterol, symptoms often do not appear until a heart attack or stroke.
If the coronary arteries are severely blocked, blood flow to the heart muscle is reduced and chest pain can occur.
With low cholesterol, there is no sign of chest pain and a buildup of fatty material in the arteries.
There are many causes of depression and anxiety, and low cholesterol may be one of them. Symptoms of depression and anxiety include
- Difficulty making decisions
- Emotional changes
If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. If your doctor does not recommend a blood test, ask if you should have one.
Risk Factors for Low Cholesterol Levels
Risk factors for low cholesterol include having a family history of the disease, being on a statin or other blood pressure treatment program, and having untreated clinical depression.
Diagnosis of Low Cholesterol
The only way to properly diagnose your cholesterol level is a blood test. You have low LDL cholesterol if your LDL cholesterol is below 50 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or your total cholesterol is below 120 mg/dL.
Total cholesterol is determined by adding LDL and HDL together (20%) and triglycerides, which are a type of fat in the blood. An LDL cholesterol level of 70 to 100 mg/dL is considered ideal.
It is important to monitor your cholesterol. If you have not had a cholesterol test in the past two years, make an appointment.
Treating Low Cholesterol
Your low cholesterol is most likely caused by your diet or physical condition. To treat low cholesterol, it is important to understand that eating foods high in cholesterol is not the only solution. Blood tests and mental health screenings can suggest dietary and lifestyle treatments for low cholesterol.
If your cholesterol levels affect your mental state and vice versa, you may be prescribed antidepressants.
Low cholesterol has been linked to a number of serious health complications. It is a risk factor for primary intracerebral hemorrhage, which is more common in the elderly.
It is also possible that statin drugs are causing low cholesterol. If this is the case, dose or medication adjustments may be necessary.
Prevention of hypothyroidism
Low cholesterol is not a big concern for most people, so few people take action to prevent it.
To keep your cholesterol in balance, check it often. Make sure you have a heart-healthy diet and an active lifestyle so you don’t have to take statins or blood pressure medications. If you have a family member with cholesterol problems, be aware. Finally, be aware of symptoms of anxiety and stress, especially those that feel violent.