High Cholesterol Risks

Are you aware of the dangers of high cholesterol levels? Here's an article on high cholesterol risks. Read on...
The word 'cholesterol' has become a frightening word with regards to one's health. It has been closely associated with cardiovascular diseases, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. There is a lot being said and written about the high cholesterol risks. However, cholesterol is not such an evil or dangerous molecule. It is a body friendly substance, not to forget in the right amount, and is a necessary component of cell membranes. It is used to form certain hormones and is necessary for various physiological functions.

The molecules of cholesterol are manufactured by the liver and ingested as a part of dietary fat intake which is healthy. Then why is it considered to be evil? It's simple! Cholesterol in the right amount and at the right place is healthy, however, high levels of cholesterol can be accompanied by a number of cardiovascular diseases.

Cholesterol - Good or Bad?
Cholesterol is a soft, fat like substance which is waxy in nature and circulates in the blood. It forms a part of every cell in our body and hence, we cannot live without cholesterol. It is required for:
  • Building the cell membranes
  • Making certain steroid hormones like estrogen, cortisone, testosterone, etc
  • Manufacture of vitamin D in the body
  • Synthesis of bile acid
So, these were some functions of cholesterol. However, sometimes our body tends to make more cholesterol than is actually needed. This excess cholesterol then circulates in the bloodstream and may get deposited in the arteries. The deposition of cholesterol in the arteries leads to clogging of the blood vessels resulting in obstruction of the normal blood flow. This increases the risks of heart disorders like heart attacks and strokes which is one of the major risks of high cholesterol. Certain animal foods like eggs, meat and dairy products contain a good amount of cholesterol. Consuming these foods also can raise the cholesterol levels of your body making you prone to heart diseases.

Types of Cholesterol
There are different types of cholesterols and not all cholesterols can harm your body. It is the low density lipoprotein (LDL) or the 'bad cholesterol' that poses a threat to the health. It clogs the blood vessels and increases your chances for heart diseases. The high density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the 'good cholesterol' and it helps to clear the LDL out of the blood, thus reducing the risks. High blood cholesterol levels, the LDL ones, are the common cause of heart diseases and coronary artery diseases. Hence one should avoid the foods containing HDL.

When your blood contains really high cholesterol, it begins to deposit on the inner walls of the arteries. Over a period of time, this deposition results into hardening of the arteries and this condition is known as atherosclerosis. The clogged blood vessels are unable to keep the blood flow normal and the heart has to put real efforts in pumping the blood. This gives rise to increased blood pressure. Hypertension can be responsible for heart attacks and strokes and can be fatal.

Coronary Artery Disease
This condition is also called coronary heart disease and is the most common of all the heart diseases. It arises when the coronary blood vessels, those which transport the blood to the heart, are blocked by cholesterol deposition or damaged. When these blood vessels are blocked, it becomes difficult for the nutrients and oxygen to reach the outer portion of the heart, and ultimately leads to myocardial infarction, in simple words, heart attack.

The best way to avoid them is to limit the cholesterol that enters the body through the diet. Also regular exercise can help convert cholesterol into HDL or the good cholesterol. Keep your cholesterol levels controlled and stay away from the high cholesterol dangers. Take care!
By Amruta Deshpande
Published: 3/29/2010
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