Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) in your blood. Cells need cholesterol for healthy living so your body makes about 75% of what you need, but you also get cholesterol from the food you eat. 25% of the cholesterol that your body has comes from animal products in your food.If you have too much cholesterol, it starts to build up in your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. This hardening of the arteries is called atherosclerosis.
To help you understand what happens inside your body, think about how a clog forms in the pipe under a kitchen sink. Like the buildup of grease in the pipe, the buildup of cholesterol narrows your arteries and makes it harder for blood to flow through them. It reduces the amount of blood that gets to your body tissues, including your heart. This can lead to serious problems, including heart attack and stroke.
As you age, your physician will recommend that you get your cholesterol levels checked with a simple blood test since the risk of heart disease and stroke increase with age. The results of this blood test, or lipid panel, will give you a number that is represented below:
- High cholesterol is 240mg/dL or above.
- Borderline-high cholesterol is 200 to 239mg/dL.
- Best total cholesterol is less than 200mg/dL.
What are the different kinds of cholesterol?
- LDL is known as the “bad” cholesterol, the kind that can clog your arteries if you have too much of it. This is the cholesterol you need to lower, if you have high cholesterol.
- HDL is the “good” cholesterol. HDL helps clear fat from your blood. You want your HDL to be high. A high HDL level is linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
- Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. If you have high triglycerides and high LDL, your chances of having a heart attack are higher.
What are the symptoms?
High cholesterol doesn’t necessarily make you feel sick, so sometimes when people receive their blood work results they already have narrowing arteries. Some doctors, however, report that their patients experience feelings of fatigue, pain, and/or increased sweating because of the shortage of oxygen-rich blood being delivered to the body.
How high cholesterol is treated and why could it be the cause of your increased sweating?
Statins are the medicines most often prescribed to treat high cholesterol because of their ability to block the production of cholesterol in the liver and lower the LDL levels and triglycerides. The main types of statin drugs prescribed are: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), and Mevacor (lovastatin).
Most, if not all, medications come with warnings and side effects but the one of most interest for people who are experiencing increased sweating is Nicotini Acid. Common names of this medication include: Niacin, Niaspan, and Nicolar.
Nicotinic Acid, or B-Complex Vitamin treatment, is found in food, but in order to treat cholesterol is prescribed in high doses. Nicotinic acid lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol levels, which serves dual purposes in your overall cholesterol health. Despite its higher levels of safety and efficacy, nicotinic acid’s main side effects are flushing, itching, tingling, and headache.
It should be mentioned that this unavoidable flushing, commonly experienced at night, is different from night sweats. Flushing is redness of the skin, typically of the neck and cheeks that may cause increased sweat production. In addition to the nicotinic acids (Niaspan, Niacin, and Nicolar) there are a number of other drugs that cause flushing: Tamoxifen, Hydralazine, Nitroglycerine, and Viagra (sildenafil).
A recent study revealed that out of over 118,000 people studied, a little over 1% of them reported excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis. The split between males and females was just about 50/50 in the experience of excessive sweating and the majority were aged between 60 years and above.
One additional data point revealed the co-morbidities, or co-existing conditions, of the subjects with high cholesterol was of particular interest. The top five co-existing conditions include: hypertension, depression, chronic pain, diabetes mellitus, and anxiety. Each one of these conditions is typically treated with a drug whose number one side effect is increased sweat production.
When you are experiencing increased sweat production and/or night sweats, first look to see what medication(s) you might be taking that could increase this likelihood. Although beneficial in the treatment of certain medical conditions or diseases, they may also be to blame for the increased severity of your sweating. And as always, talk to your doctor about any other symptoms that might be a cause of concern.