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Our Editorial Team
Shifa Fatima, MSc.
Dr. Apoorva T, MHM.
what is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an essential substance in the body that is required to make cell membranes and hormones, and insulate nerves. The body, specifically the liver, produces cholesterol on its own; however, you can also get it from animal products such as dairy and meats. It is a fat-like substance and it travels around your body in the bloodstream in HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and LDL (low-density lipoproteins). Elevated cholesterol levels can cause blockages and can be a cause for concern.
Table of Contents
Cholesterol and Heart Disease
The relation between cholesterol and heart disease is easy to understand. When the level of LDL in the body rises, the extra cholesterol is deposited on the walls of arteries. This build up of cholesterol is also known as plaque. The area for the blood to flow becomes narrow and it strains the heart. This can keep building over time and eventually cause a clot which completely cuts off blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or a stroke. Studies have shown that better dietary habits, like lesser intake of dietary cholesterol, can significantly reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
What are high cholesterol symptoms?
Even though the relation between cholesterol and heart disease is obvious, there is no way of knowing whether the cholesterol is high or not just by looking at the person. There are no obvious heart cholesterol symptoms and hence it is difficult to say for sure without a blood test. This is why it is important to keep tabs on your cholesterol levels by conducting periodic tests as suggested by your doctor.
How to Lower Your Risk of Heart Attack?
The levels of heart cholesterol are often very critical. It is essential to take precautions to avoid any heart condition caused because of cholesterol. The surest way to lower the risk is to reduce the cholesterol levels in the body. Here are some ways you can do so -
1. Exercise regime
Most associations recommend targeting 70 to 100 hours of exercise every week. The exercises can range from high intensity to low intensity and can include walking, jogging, briskly walking, and so on.
2. Healthy diet
A healthy diet includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. It can include fish, meat, and poultry in moderate quantities.
3. Stabilize your weight
If you are overweight, it is important to prepare a weight loss plan for yourself and start immediately. Exercise and changes in diet is the most effective combination when it comes to losing weight.
4. Stop smoking
Smoking can cause damage to the lining of the blood vessels and the blood is more prone to a clot. If you quit smoking, you instantly lower the risk of a heart attack.
5. Limit alcohol intake
Drinking excess alcohol can raise your triglycerides, which is a type of fat found in blood. It can increase your risk for heart attack when it is combined with high LDL.
6. Take only prescribed medications
When exercise and diet control is not enough, medications become necessary. However, only the prescribed medications by the doctor as well as the ones the quantity mentioned should be taken.
7. Health conditions
There are many health conditions that increase the risk of heart attack and they should be treated immediately and if there is no cure, the symptoms should be managed. Inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, lupus, and so on can further increase the risk of heart attack.
8. Preemptive testing
Most doctors that feel the patient is a risk, recommend getting tested every few months for cholesterol. Follow the patterns told by your doctor to ensure you catch the elevated heart cholesterol symptoms in time and start a regime to manage it.
Heart disease - Risk factors
High blood cholesterol is a risk for heart disease. There are many other such risks and they are -
1. Unstable blood pressure
4. Hereditary heart-related issues
5. Diabetes and prediabetes
6. Physical inactivity
7. Preeclampsia during pregnancy
8. Unhealthy diet
Cholesterol and heart disease are interrelated. It is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of heart disease. It is possible to avoid heart disease completely by taking steps to ensure you keep checking cholesterol levels.
1. Is there a link between cholesterol and heart disease?
Yes, there is a link between cholesterol and heart disease. High levels of cholesterol cause narrowing of arteries. This allows lesser blood to flow and makes it difficult for it to travel throughout the body. The heart receives less oxygen and it puts a strain on the heart. Formation of a clot is also possible in such cases and can cause a heart attack or a stroke.
2. Does lowering cholesterol reduce heart disease?
Yes, lowering cholesterol lowers the risk of heart disease.
3. What level of cholesterol causes heart attack?
If the total cholesterol level is 240 or above, it can cause heart issues. If LDL is 160 or higher, it can cause complications. If HDL is less than 40, it is a risk factor.
4. Is high cholesterol a marker for heart disease?
Yes, high cholesterol is a marker for heart disease and they are interconnected.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.