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Understanding Cholesterol & Heart Disease

Understanding cholesterol and cardiac diseases
  • Sep 10
  • Cardiac Care

Is Cholesterol good or bad? There is a misconception among people that Cholesterols are bad. Are they really bad? Certainly No, if they are under control. In fact, Cholesterols are essential for many body functions. In some cases, if its levels are high, it becomes a silent threat and puts people under the risk of heart diseases.

What is the association between Cholesterol and Heart health?

High Cholesterol and heart diseases are closely associated and here is the sound explanation on how. Cholesterol travels in the blood in these forms

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL)

HDL is known as "good cholesterol" as it clears cholesterol from the blood by taking it to the liver for disposal.

VLDL contains Triglycerides which makes LDL cholesterol larger in size.

LDL is known as "bad cholesterol" because it blocks arteries and forbids blood from reaching your heart. Do you wonder how this happens? When high Cholesterol travels around your bloodstream, it can reach your heart too. Sometimes it gets clung to the walls of the arteries, thus blocking or narrowing it. This build-up of fatty substance in the arteries is called Plaque.

High Cholesterol paves way for serious heart diseases like atherosclerosis, angina, stroke, and coronary heart disease.

Symptoms of heart disease caused by High Cholesterol

Most people remain unaware of high cholesterol as they show no symptoms. Though cholesterol does not cause any symptoms by itself, it can be the risk factor for other illnesses. But heart diseases are not much the same, their symptoms can vary in men and women which include

  • Chest pain
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • If the blood vessels in legs or arms narrowed, it may cause pain, weakness, numbness, or coldness
  • Pain in the jaw, throat, neck, back or upper abdomen

The presence of these symptoms will not always be accounted to high Cholesterol but depends on a number of factors like lifestyle, sex and age. 

What contributes to High Cholesterol?

The higher the cholesterol level, the greater the chance of heart diseases which brings other complications like Heart failure, Heart attack, Stroke, Aneurysm, Peripheral artery disease, Sudden cardiac arrest.

The factors that may contribute to building up of more cholesterol include Smoking, Obesity, Large waist circumference, Poor diet, lack of exercise and Diabetes.

Preventing High Cholesterol

Preventing high levels of cholesterols in the first place prevents heart diseases because High cholesterol adds strain on your heart.

  • Avoid food with trans-fat on their label; they have no nutritional value
  • Avoid food comprising saturated fats like sweets, meat, fried foods, dairy products
  • Include low-salt diets
  • Select whole grains
  • Reduce extra pounds
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Drink alcohol moderately, if at all
  • Quit smoking

It is quite understandable that it is difficult to calculate the fat content of every food on your plate, but it has its own benefits. If your cholesterol numbers are bothering you, check your family history too.

Test and Diagnosis

Having an early diagnosis is essential to minimize the impact of the disease on your normal life. The blood test is the most preferred one to check cholesterol levels. You are asked to fast for around 12 hours prior to the test. This makes sure that all food consumed by you is digested completely. The blood test gives numbers about

  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol
  • Triglycerides — another type of fat in the blood that can also increase the risk of heart disease.

Treatment and drugs

The defence line against high cholesterol can be built using certain drugs like

  • Statins: This blocks the liver from making cholesterol and also reabsorbs the fatty deposits on the artery walls.
  • Bile-acid-binding resins: This helps the liver to make more bile acids with excess cholesterol which is present already thus reducing the blood cholesterol level.
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitor: This reduces blood cholesterol level by limiting the dietary cholesterol absorbed by the small intestine.
  • Combination of statin and cholesterol absorption inhibitor: This combination reduces both productions of cholesterol in the liver and absorption of dietary cholesterol in the small intestine.

In a nutshell, your cholesterol level has a lot to tell with the possibility of getting your heart disease. The longer you prevent the controllable risk factors, the longer the cholesterol levels under control and eventually lower heart diseases. Healthy eating patterns which carry low cholesterol can lessen the risk of heart diseases. Monitor your health condition on day-to-day basis and talk to your doctor about your new symptoms. At Fortis Malar, Chennai, our cardiologist in Chennai carefully examine your health condition and suggest the dietary and drug treatments that are needed to lower the risk of cholesterol and heart diseases.

To struggle against this invisible disease, commit yourself to get your cholesterol numbers checked every year and so you can elude your heart disease at the outset.

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