Cholesterol is a lipid substance that is naturally present in all parts of the body. The heart is a strong muscle that pumps blood through the body. Blood carries oxygen (it is part of the air we breathe) and the heart needs a lot of oxygen.
Arteries or blood vessels are tubes that carry oxygenated blood to the heart and the rest of the body. If the arteries are clogged, not enough blood can get to the heart. This causes heart disease, high cholesterol (a waxy film that can build up and block blood flow) is the main reason why people suffer from heart disease.
The heart and cholesterol
High cholesterol (a waxy film that can build up and block blood flow) is the main reason why people suffer from heart disease.
The blood carries cholesterol through the arteries to different parts of the body. Some of that cholesterol is made in the liver. The rest comes from food. The body needs cholesterol to function properly.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol has a whitish, waxy appearance, similar to dust. You cannot see it or feel it.
The body needs cholesterol to function properly. But too much cholesterol can lead to problems.
“Good” vs. “Bad” Cholesterol
When you have too much fat in your body, the fat turns into LDL or what is called “bad” cholesterol.
Sometimes LDL cholesterol sticks to the artery walls. Over time, the arteries become clogged and, as a result, the blood circulates more slowly. Clogged arteries can lead to heart disease.
The other class of cholesterol, HDL, helps to release some of the LDL cholesterol from the walls of the arteries, This is why HDL cholesterol is called “good” cholesterol.
In some families, a hereditary disease occurs that is characterized by an increase in the level of LDL cholesterol. If your parents or grandparents had high cholesterol, this could be the cause of your high cholesterol. We cannot change that, but we can help control LDL levels with the guidance of your doctor.
Cholesterol and heart disease
Too much cholesterol can slow or stop blood flow:
- When blood flow slows too much, you may experience chest pain or high blood pressure.
- When blood flow is interrupted or obstructed, you could have a heart attack.
- When blood flow to the brain is interrupted or obstructed, you could have a stroke.
Know your levels
What you can change is your diet. Eating a low-fat diet can help lower LDL cholesterol. Ask your doctor what LDL cholesterol values should be right for you.
The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is through a blood test. By lowering your cholesterol, you can reduce the chance of having a heart attack, heart surgery, or dying from heart failure.
Know your cholesterol goal
It is important to know your level and what your optimal level would be. Your doctor will determine your target value for your bad cholesterol based on risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, or a family history of heart disease.