High cholesterol – What is it?
‘High cholesterol’ is a condition where there is excessive amount of cholesterol in the blood stream. Patients who suffer from high cholesterol are often unaware of it as there is very rarely any signs and symptoms.
The main problem that is associated with high cholesterol is the risk that it brings with it. Individuals with high cholesterol are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and strokes.
We have previously discussed the different kinds of cholesterol i.e. good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. High levels of good cholesterol i.e. HDL cholesterol protect the heart by reducing the degree to which heart vessels get thickened (atherosclerosis). High levels of bad cholesterol i.e. LDL cholesterol can increase the degree of atherosclerosis and can consequently increase the risk of a heart attack.
Why is high cholesterol important?
As the levels of cholesterol arise in the blood, so do the chances of a person getting heart disease. In addition to high cholesterol levels, if a patient has a history of smoking, family history of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, their chances of developing heart disease is significantly increased.
The problem with having high levels of bad cholesterol is that it transfers the cholesterol that is synthesised in the liver through the blood stream all the way to the heart. This cholesterol travels to the small blood vessels in the heart depositing on their wall and leading to atherosclerosis.
Eventually, atherosclerosis can be significant enough to block sufficient amount of blood flowing through the heart arteries leading to coronary artery disease and heart attacks.
- Managing high cholesterol