March 17, 2008

Cholesterol and the Risk of Heart Disease

by Groshan Fabiola

Most people are unaware of the fact that having abnormal blood cholesterol levels seriously jeopardizes one's health. High blood cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease, rendering people very susceptible to suffering heart attack. Actually, the higher your total blood cholesterol level, the higher your risk for developing coronary disease and suffering a heart attack.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among the population of the United States. Statistics indicate that there are more than one million cases of heart attack reported in the United States each year. Around 500.000 Americans die each year as a consequence of heart disease. Most cases of heart disease and heart failure among the American population are solely caused by inappropriate blood cholesterol levels. This is a very disturbing fact, as coronary disease due to high blood cholesterol can be effectively prevented and treated in present.

Apart from coronary disease, people with high blood cholesterol levels are also very exposed to developing peripheral vascular disease, arthritis and in some cases, diabetes. People with high blood cholesterol levels are also prone to suffering stroke and permanent brain damage. All these conditions are linked with inappropriate blood flow and poor oxygenation of the organism, consequences of abnormally high blood cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance produced by the liver. In normal amounts, cholesterol is benefic for the organism, supporting the activity of blood cells and aiding the body in producing hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. While in small amounts cholesterol is benign for the human body, fulfilling a series of vital roles inside the organism, in large amounts it seriously affects one's overall health. When in excess, cholesterol accumulates in the bloodstream, sticking to the interior walls of arteries and obstructing normal blood flow. Clogged with cholesterol deposits, the arteries eventually become hardened and narrow, slowing down blood flow. When cholesterol accumulates inside the coronary arteries, it prevents blood flow from reaching the heart, depriving the heart valves from vital nutrients and oxygen supplies. Complete blockage of the coronary arteries causes the heart to stop functioning, resulting in a heart attack.

In order to prevent the occurrence of heart disease and other conditions associated with high blood cholesterol levels, it is very important to regularly have your cholesterol numbers checked. If your blood cholesterol values are higher than average, you should address to your physician in order to receive the appropriate treatment. In addition, you will have to follow a cholesterol-lowering diet and make a few lifestyle improvements in order to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Corroborated with proper diet and a physically active lifestyle, cholesterol-lowering medications greatly reduce the risk of developing a wide range of life-threatening conditions linked with high blood cholesterol levels.

Doctors recommend all people with ages over 20 to have their cholesterol levels measured regularly. Young adults and middle age people are advised to have their cholesterol levels measured every 5 years, while older adults need to have their cholesterol levels measured at least once every 2 years.

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