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How Are Cholesterol and Heart Disease Connected?

Dec 17, 2021

Primary Care

How Are Cholesterol and Heart Disease Connected?
High cholesterol levels pose a significant threat to your cardiovascular health. If you have no health issues, cholesterol levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL are acceptable. However, if you have heart disease or underlying heart risk factors, you may need to speak to your healthcare provider to understand your body’s acceptable cholesterol levels. This article will explore the link between high cholesterol and cardiac issues.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is an essential cell-building component of cell membranes and acts as a building block for developing several hormones, vitamin D, and more. It is found in the blood, and our liver naturally produces sufficient amounts of cholesterol.Therefore, excess cholesterol consumption through food can negatively affect your health. Excessive cholesterol amounts in the blood can obstruct blood flow and form plaque which can be detrimental to heart health.

How does high cholesterol cause heart disease?

When combined with proteins, cholesterol is referred to as lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins:
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) 
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
High LDL levels increase cardiac risks because it causes plaque buildup. However, the presence of HDL is considered by some experts to be beneficial for health. Although an oversimplification, LDL can be thought of as bad cholesterol, and HDL can be considered good cholesterol.Plaque buildup in the wall of the arteries causes a heart condition called atherosclerosis. This accumulation of cholesterol inside the blood vessels causes them to harden and become narrow, thus restricting blood flow to the heart. This can result in chest pain or angina.In severe cases, the buildup in the capillaries can rupture, leading to the formation of blood clots. Sometimes, the blood clots completely block off the blood supply to the heart, thereby triggering a heart attack or stroke. 

What are major the risk factors of heart disease?

Several risk factors are associated with heart disease, including:
  • Obesity - Overweight individuals have increased chances of developing a heart condition. Obesity is directly responsible for higher LDL levels. Additionally, obesity aggravates conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., which are also risk factors for coronary disease.
  • High blood pressure - It’s a leading cause of coronary ailments in adults. Regular checkups and lifestyle changes help keep the blood pressure in check.
  • Smoking - Chronic smokers have a higher risk of developing heart issues. Additionally, secondhand smoke also increases the chances of heart disease for nonsmokers.
  • Stress - Excessive stress can weaken the heart over time. Also, indulging in unhealthy habits such as overeating or smoking to decrease stress affects cardiac health in the long run. You can exercise or listen to music to minimize stress. 
  • Alcohol -High alcohol consumption can cause unnecessary weight gain and increase blood pressure. It is necessary to monitor alcohol consumption to ensure good heart health.

Managing cholesterol to prevent heart disease

Here’s how to keep cholesterol in check:
  • Exercise - Leading an active lifestyle reduces the "bad" cholesterol in the blood. Regular workouts can also increase your blood circulation and maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Healthy diet - Cutting down on fatty foods and opting for foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes can improve heart health. 
  • Checkup with your primary care doctor - Regular checkups with your primary care doctor help detect heart diseases early, and your doctor can give you recommended lifestyle changes.
  • No smoking - Smoking increases plaque formation and directly affects the heart. So, it is necessary to avoid or completely quit smoking.
If you have high cholesterol levels or are at risk for heart disease, making small lifestyle changes to reduce your cholesterol levels can reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Are you experiencing heart disease symptoms or have high cholesterol levels? Contact our medical team at MI Express Primary Care for your annual medical checkup and treatment of any underlying heart conditions. We can create a personalized treatment plan based on your medical condition and lifestyle.
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