High cholesterol has various effects on your body, one of which is fatigue. When plaque builds in the walls of your arteries, it leads to conditions such as coronary heart disease, CHD, and coronary microvascular disease, CMD. Although high cholesterol itself does not directly cause fatigue, the conditions resulting from it can.
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Atherosclerosis is a disease resulting from plaque buildup in your artery walls. A major risk factor for atherosclerosis is high cholesterol, according to the doctor-produced FromYourDoctor.com. Plaque made up of such substances in your blood as cholesterol, fat and calcium narrows the walls of arteries, blocking the flow of blood to your heart and other areas of your body. It can lead to coronary heart disease but is also a risk factor for coronary microvascular disease.
Coronary Microvascular Disease
Coronary microvascular disease results when plaque forms in the smaller arteries leading to your heart. Unlike CHD, the plaque causing CMD doesn't always lead to blockages. Women are more likely than men to develop this condition, possibly because of a drop in estrogen during menopause. Although both CMD and CHD increase your risk for heart attack, their symptoms vary slightly. The chest pain from CHD tends to get worse during activity and to subside when you rest. The pain from CMD lasts at least 10 minutes and often lasts longer than 30 minutes. Other symptoms associated with CMD include fatigue, lack of energy and problems sleeping.
Medically known as a lipid profile, cholesterol testing should begin at the age of 20, according to the American Heart Association. AMA recommends having this test once every five years. Its purpose is to determine your risk of developing heart disease. If the results show your cholesterol levels are too high, your doctor can begin treatment early, which may help prevent cardiovascular complications, such as CHD and CMD.
Healthy Cholesterol Levels
The healthy range for cholesterol depends on the type of cholesterol. Your low-density lipoprotein, LDL, should be 129 mg/dl or less. Optimal is 100 mg/dl or less, says the AHA. Your LDL is what your doctor considers the most important. It causes the plaque buildup in your arteries. High-density lipoprotein, HDL, is your good cholesterol and should be high, not low. Optimal levels are 60 mg/dl or greater. Total cholesterol is a culmination of all cholesterol in your blood, and should be 200 mg/dl or lower.
The usual treatment for high cholesterol begins with a revamping of your diet. Exchange high-fat snacks, such as potato chips and cookies, for fresh fruits and vegetables. Lower your saturated fat content to 10 percent or less of your total daily calories, according to MayoClinic.com. Saturated fats include animal products like red meat, whole-fat dairy and eggs. Swap these for poultry, fish, non-fat dairy and egg substitutes. Exercise compliments your efforts. Thirty-minutes a day most days of the week help reduce your LDL and increase your HDL. Take a walk, ride a bike or dance to your favorite music. If these efforts are not enough, your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication.