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Cholesterol plays a significant role in the development of heart disease, particularly a condition known as atherosclerosis. Here’s an overview of how cholesterol influences heart health:
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is naturally produced by the liver and also obtained from certain foods. There are two primary types of cholesterol in the body:a.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
Often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to cells throughout the body. When LDL cholesterol levels are high, it can contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries.b.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
Also Known as “good” cholesterol, HDL helps remove cholesterol from the bloodstream
It carries it back to the liver for processing and elimination.
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque accumulates in the arteries, narrowing and hardening them over time. This plaque is composed of cholesterol, fatty substances, calcium, cellular waste, and other materials.
LDL cholesterol deposits cholesterol into artery walls, causing plaque and atherosclerosis.
When LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized within the arterial walls, it triggers an inflammatory response. White blood cells and plaque-forming foam cells are recruited. Over time, the plaque builds up and narrows the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle.
Coronary Artery Disease
Atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries—which supply the heart muscle—can cause CAD. CAD inhibits heart blood flow, causing angina, heart attacks, and sudden cardiac death.
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is vital for heart health. This involves:
- Lowering LDL Cholesterol: A heart-healthy diet, frequent exercise, and a healthy weight can lower LDL cholesterol. In some cases, medication like statins may be prescribed to help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
- LDL cholesterol can be lowered by eating well, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Monitoring and Treatment: Regular cholesterol screening through a blood test is crucial for assessing overall cardiovascular risk. Based on the results and other risk factors, healthcare providers can determine appropriate interventions, including lifestyle changes or medication, to manage cholesterol levels effectively.
Cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease, but smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and family history also contribute. For personalised advice on how to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, consult a doctor.