Cholesterol and Heart Disease - Is There Any Connection? The Answer May Surprise You
Cholesterol And Heart Disease
Cholesterol is required by your body to build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Normally, the liver is responsible to make all the cholesterol the body needs. However, cholesterol also enters your body from the food you eat. Like animal-based foods, such as milk, eggs, and meat.
Too much cholesterol in your body is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis.
How Does High Cholesterol Cause atherosclerosis?
When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. This process is known as atherosclerosis,which is a form of heart problem. The arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or eventually blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if enough blood and oxygen cannot reach your heart, you may suffer chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely blocked or cut off, the result is a heart attack.
There are two forms of cholesterol:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad" cholesterol)
High-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good" cholesterol)
These are the medium in which the cholesterol travels in the blood.
LDLs have little protein and high levels of cholesterol
HDL has a lot of protein and very little cholesterol.
LDL is the main cause why the artery gets clog up forming a layer call plaque. Whereas, HDL actually works to clear cholesterol from the blood.
Triglycerides are another fat in your bloodstream. Research shows that a high levels of triglycerides is also linked to heart problems.
What Are the Symptoms of High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol itself does not cause any symptoms. That is why so many people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are high. It is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are, because lowering cholesterol levels that are too high will lessens the risk for developing heart problem. This will in turn reduce the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease.
What Numbers Should I Look For?
Doctors recommend that everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every 5 years. The test that is performed is a blood test called a lipoprotein profile. That includes:
Total cholesterol level
LDL (the "bad" cholesterol)
HDL (the "good" cholesterol)
Here's how to interpret your cholesterol numbers:
Total Cholesterol Category
Less than 200 Desirable
200 - 239 Borderline High
240 and above High
LDL Cholesterol Category
Less than 100 Optimal
100 - 129 Near optimal
130 - 159 Borderline high
160 - 189 High
190 and above Very high
60 or more Desirable - lower risk
Less than 40 Major risk factor
*HDL (good) cholesterol protects against heart disease, so for HDL, higher numbers are better.
To reduce your chances of cholesterol-related heart problems
Control any other risk factors you may have, such as high blood pressure and smoking
Follow a low saturated fat and low cholesterol eating plan
Maintain a desirable weight
Have regular physical activity/exercise