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Why is High LDL Cholesterol Level is so Dangerous?

Cholesterol is one of those things in health that you can not feel it and can not see it, but if it builds up in your arteries, it can cause you a great deal of problems. In is one of the primary causes of heart attacks, strokes and sudden death. You can not tell how high your cholesterol is without a blood test. You can not feel when it is becoming too high. Almost everyone heard something about cholesterol and some even can tell you some facts about cholesterol, but the information is not always correct. What is cholesterol, what are good and bad cholesterol and why a high level of it (the bad one) is so dangerous – these are the items where the common opinions vary a lot. Let’s get to know our enemy to its face.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is made by the body and is found naturally in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and other dairy products.

While going on reading let’s also keep in mind that high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) itself is not a disease, but it is definitely a condition that can (and very often will) lead to the health problems.

Fatty substance cholesterol is carried throw the bloodstream. But as the blood is like water cholesterol – to travel through such a watery substance – needs to be blocked in the small packages that are called lipoproteins. Two kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout our body: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol or ‘good’ cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or ‘bad’ cholesterol.

Why there is such a mess around the high LDL cholesterol level?

The low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is the major cholesterol carrier in the blood.

When there is too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood it eventually will build up in the walls of the arteries and together with other stuff will form a plague (a thick deposit that will clog the arteries) – it causes the condition called atherosclerosis. If the deposit blocks the blood flow to part of the heart muscle the condition of atherosclerosis will develop in the heart attack, if it does that to part of the brain – the result will be the cerebral vascular disease, and further hard condition - the stroke.

But this is not the end of the list. Special arteries, which bring blood to the heart, can also narrow due to the same plague. It will slow down (or even stop) the flow of blood to your heart and will cause the decreasing of amount of oxygen-rich blood. This is called coronary artery disease (because those special arteries are called coronary) or CAD. Big plague areas can lead to the angina – pain in chest because of the lack of oxygen-rich blood in the heart.

Atherosclerosis may also block blood flow not only to heart muscle and brain, but to other vital organs, such as intestines and kidneys.

Why high level of LDL cholesterol is dangerous and high levels of HLD is advisable?

Cholesterol is not all bad. Actually, our liver can make almost as much cholesterol as we need. Some of the rest cholesterol we get from our food. The liver not only produces the cholesterol but also regulates the proteins (lipoproteins) which carry it through the bloodstream.

All cholesterol that is carried through the blood on the molecule called LDL is bad. A molecule is comparatively big. That cholesterol has a tendency to release itself into the tissues and vessel walls.

The cholesterol that is carried through the blood on the molecule called HDL is called good; it can bring cholesterol from the tissues back to the liver. This molecule is smaller. The higher the level of HDL and the lower the level of LDL the better it is for the person and the less risk is for different health damages.

Let’s count the numbers.

Only special blood test can measure the levels of cholesterol.

The optimal LDL cholesterol level is less than 100 mg/dL. 100-129 mg/dL is about the norm. The highest borderline is up to 159 mg/dL. Consider your level to be high when you have from 160 to 189 mg/dL. If higher – you are in big trouble.

What about the good cholesterol? Good result is when you have HDL cholesterol level more than 60 mg/dL, this amount protects you against heart disease. 40-59 mg/dL is close to ‘ok’. Less than 40 mg/dL gives a major risk for serious problems.

The total cholesterol level should be less than 200 mg/dL. When it is above 240 mg/dL – it’s very high.

So, what causes dangerous high cholesterol level?

You could possibly think that the more bad cholesterol is in your blood – the more it blocks the walls of the blood vessels, the higher the risk of the heart disease. It is much more complicated, as the narrowing of the blood vessels is caused by lots of other factors as well (such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, etc.). These factors are:

Overweight – excess weigh cause you more than just problems with cholesterol

Physical activity – or it’s better to say – it’s absence. Active life and physical activity increases HDL levels.

Food – food that is high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat greatly increases you risks of health problems.

Heredity - if cholesterol problems or heart disease run in your family, you are at a higher risk for having problems.

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Age you get older – the risk is higher.

The fact is that there is no right way to deal with high cholesterol levels. All the programs are different, but should obligatory focus on diet and exercise. There are also plenty of safe and effective medications for lowering your ‘bad’ cholesterol, if the diet and exercises do not help. And remember, that controlling your cholesterol levels involve many life changing factors. Blockages develop because of many factors, not only because of the cholesterol, that is though the factor number one in the list. Changing your bad habits will improve your whole body balance and will help to win the battle with those difficult to understand levels.

Valentyna Ant.

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