Have you been diagnosed with high cholesterol? So it’s January
If you suspect the cold, you may be wrong – doctors break the “alibi” for personal innocence, they think that we are harming ourselves with treats during the long holidays. A study reports the lowest values from tests done in the months of May and June
Cholesterol is something of a scarecrow in the eyes of people who struggle with high blood pressure or are at risk for it. In fact, without cholesterol there is no life. It participates in all the important processes that keep us healthy – from reproduction to growth to development at every moment of our existence. The scare is due to one of the two main types of cholesterol – bad cholesterol, and when its amount in the blood is above the norm. For the so-called good cholesterol, the rule is the opposite – the more, the better, although according to some cardiologists, higher concentrations have no added benefits. There is also a theory that good cardiovascular health is related to a certain individual balance between the two values.
The basic guideline is still the values of total cholesterol with an emphasis on low-density lipoproteins (the so-called bad cholesterol, written in medical documents as LDL). According to the consensus of the European Atherosclerosis Community, total cholesterol values are normal if they remain within 3.5 – 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). The recommendation for bad cholesterol is to keep it up to 2.59 mmol/l, and a concentration above 4.9 mmol/l indicates a serious risk. The WHO recommendation is to start treatment after a comprehensive risk assessment, which, in addition to cholesterol and blood levels, also takes into account the person’s age, gender, whether they have experienced previous cardiovascular incidents, etc.
The problem with excess cholesterol is that over time, these fats can form plaques, narrow blood vessels and cause them to harden. The narrower and more inelastic the arteries, the greater the risk of heart attack, stroke and other potentially life-threatening conditions.
For high values, dietary changes and cholesterol-lowering drugs are usually prescribed. However, this should not be done at the first measurement and especially if the test was conducted after the big winter holidays. The conclusion is prompted by a Danish study that found higher values of total and bad cholesterol after the cycle of big winter holidays.
The cold weather does not have a direct effect, rather it is our behavior in the cold season that is to blame. Then we tend to be sedentary, our activity levels are low, and we crave high-calorie, high-fat foods and overeat on holidays.
The Danish team analyzed almost 26,000 health records of Copenhagen residents aged 20 to 100. And it found that average levels of total cholesterol and LDL rose in people studied from summer through December and January. Compared to those tested in May-June, those tested in December-January had 15% higher levels of total cholesterol and 20% higher levels of bad cholesterol.
The lowest concentrations of LDL cholesterol in the blood were found during tests done in May or June. That’s the specific reason the study authors are reserved about starting cholesterol-lowering drugs after tests in January.
The conclusion the researchers draw is that celebrating Christmas is associated with higher levels of total and LDL cholesterol and a higher risk of extreme values (hypercholesterolemia) in the general population.
“Therefore, the diagnosis of hypercholesterolaemia should not be made soon after Christmas, and our results highlight the need to re-examine such patients later in time and certainly before starting cholesterol-lowering treatment.”
Cardiologists have professional folklore on the subject: Ah, high cholesterol! Sure enough, January is here!
They call the winter higher values of their patients “holiday cholesterol”, “Christmas cholesterol”, “gluttonous cholesterol”.
The result of the data for the Danes repeats the conclusions of a previous, larger study by “Johns Hopkins” with the participation of 2.8 million Americans. And it found that cholesterol varied by time of year with less favorable lipid profiles during the cold months. And again, the bottom line is that the trend is likely due to changes in behavior. Atherosclerotic risk factors are lowest in spring and summer, according to the team.