Knowing the Dangers of High Cholesterol and How to Fight Back
If you are in good health, your weight is normal, and you maintain a good diet you really shouldn't have to worry about high cholesterol right? Not so fast. Yes it is true that being inactive and overweight plus eating all sorts of cholesterol laden foods will increase your chances of high cholesterol, but so too will your genes.
Whatever the cause may be of your high cholesterol you need to know what to do to combat it as high cholesterol leads to the development of atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries, and that in turn will increase your risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.
When you hear doctors talk about high cholesterol they do not mean the amount you are getting from the food you ingest, but instead are referring to the amount of the bad stuff that is coursing through your blood. This ‘bad' cholesterol is known as LDL cholesterol and with too much of it comes the hardening of your arteries. No this doesn't happen overnight but it does start while you are young. As time passes a plaque builds up in your arteries and if you don't curb your cholesterol you will be at a much greater risk of atherosclerosis when you are in your 50s if you are a man and your 60s if you are women.
How exactly does atherosclerosis happen? When your arteries are healthy, the inner lining will be smooth but with disease or an injury, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and of course high cholesterol, the lining can become damaged and pave the way for your arteries to begin to harden.
While scientists are not exactly sure how high cholesterol hurts the inner lining of the arteries it is theorized that LDL carries fatty acids that can oxidize and wreck havoc on the arteries inner lining. The higher the level of LDL inside of your body, the more damage that can possibly be done. Ultimately you will have the body react in an inflammatory way within the artery walls as a reaction to the injury.
Atherosclerosis then begins when white blood cells begin to attach themselves to the walls of the arteries. Once there, they turn into foam cells and collect all sort of bad things such as fat and cholesterol, and even calcium. The end result is plaque or atheroma forming. Once these plaques thicken and harden they in turn will block partially or fully the flow of blood. If an atheroma ruptures it can create a blood clot that will trigger a heart attack or stroke.
So what can you do to lower your cholesterol? While it is true that LDL is harmful and bad, there is a form of ‘good' cholesterol known as HDL that actually helps your arteries. According to some doctors, HDL can reduce the inflammation in damaged arteries and also block the oxidation that occurs with LDL. Some also think that HDL has the ability to carry some levels of the bad cholesterol out of the arteries and back into the liver, which is where the body naturally produces cholesterol, and thus have the body get rid of it naturally. So it stands to reason that the more HDL you have in your body, the less likely you are to be at a high risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
It also helps to know what your cholesterol numbers are and how they can be lowered. To do this simply visit your doctor's office and talk with them about an acceptable number for you. You can then get tested and if your number is too high you can begin to make the changes that will be needed in order to bring the number down.
While you should be very concerned with your cholesterol levels once you hit 40, you should not wait until then to find out more information about your numbers. Often times people will wait until they get a warning from their bodies that their cholesterol levels are too high. The problem with that is more time than not that warning could be a heart attack or a stroke and if that warning proves fatal, then you obviously won't get a second chance to make the levels right.
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