Home » Heart Health » The Link between High Cholesterol and Heart Health
High cholesterol is a serious risk factor for heart disease, and the American Heart Association reports that high levels of bad LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. But while it’s clear that having too much bad cholesterol in our bodies has severe consequences on our overall health, we don’t necessarily know why this is, or how to manage it. We will discuss the link between high cholesterol levels and poor heart health in detail and provide some actionable steps you can take to improve your own personal wellbeing.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance which is necessary for cell division, nerve insulation, and hormone synthesis, all of which help keep you healthy. Cholesterol is normally synthesised by the liver and used throughout the body. Animal products like milk, eggs, and meat are also a major source of cholesterol in the human diet. Increased cholesterol levels in the blood can lead to plaque build-up in the arteries . This can increase the risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol, a fatty substance, circulates in your bloodstream as High-density lipoproteins (HDL) and Low-density lipoproteins (LDL):
High cholesterol is one of the most significant risk factors for heart disease. When there is an excess of LDL cholesterol in the blood it can cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries. This plaque can narrow or block the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. This can lead to a higher chance of developing heart attacks and strokes. A heart attack will occur when the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage.
High cholesterol can also lead to the formation of blood clots, which can further increase the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, high cholesterol levels can also cause damage to the blood vessels, making them more prone to ruptures, which can cause a heart attack.
On the other hand, high levels of HDL can actually clear the cholesterol in blood vessels as it transports it to the liver for processing
An 8-week long 2016 study (ref.link) concluded that elevated LDL is an important risk factor for heart disease, and that dietary fatty acids play an important role in the development of heart disease.
Triglycerides are another type of fat present in the blood. High levels of triglycerides may also be linked to heart disease, according to new research.
There are several risk factors for high cholesterol, including:
There are several ways to manage high cholesterol, including:
High cholesterol can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as:
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. When cholesterol levels are too high, it can lead to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which can restrict blood flow to the heart and lead to the development of heart disease. To reduce the risk of heart disease, it is important to maintain healthy cholesterol levels through a diet low in saturated and trans fats, regular physical activity, and by not smoking. If necessary, medications such as statins can also be used to lower cholesterol levels. It’s important to note that while diet and lifestyle changes are effective in controlling cholesterol levels, some people may require medication to reach healthy cholesterol levels. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations for managing your cholesterol level.
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High cholesterol can be caused by a variety of factors including diet, lack of physical activity, genetics, and smoking. A diet high in saturated and trans fats can also contribute to high cholesterol levels.
A cholesterol test, also known as a lipid panel or lipid profile, can be done to determine if cholesterol levels are too high. Your healthcare provider will be able to advise you on how often you should be tested.
High cholesterol typically does not have any symptoms. It is often discovered during a routine cholesterol test.
There are several ways to lower cholesterol levels, including eating a diet low in saturated and trans fats, regular physical activity, not smoking, and if necessary, taking cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins.
Like all medications, cholesterol-lowering medications can have side effects. Common side effects of statins include muscle pain, weakness, and stomach upset.
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