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High cholesterol is tough on arteries and your health – How to fight back

High cholesterol can be a burden on the arteries and also your health. Here’s how you can fight.

When Ramona Richman’s sibling was diagnosed as having high cholesterol levels, Richman wasn’t worried about her risk. Richman, a San Francisco Bay Area stay-at-home mother had her weight in check and believed that her eating habits were healthy. So when her doctor revealed an announcement that she also had elevated cholesterol levels She was shocked. Her cholesterol reading at 269 mg/dL is over the desired levels that is under 200 mg/dL. “My sister was diagnosed with high cholesterol and was prescribed medicine, therefore I believe that it’s genetic,” Richman, 48 says.

Genes are often a contributing reason for high cholesterol, however, so is being overweight, physically inactive and eating a diet that is packed with saturated fats and cholesterol. The liver produces all the cholesterol your body needs however, many people also get large amounts through their food. No matter the reason the high cholesterol can pose dangers. It is a key factor in the progression of atherosclerosis or the thickening and narrowing of arteries. This in turn increases the chance of having a heart attack and stroke.

When they talk about high cholesterol, they’re not referring to how much cholesterol that a person receives from food or drinks, but rather the amount of the substance is circulated within the blood. Atherosclerosis is the most specific reason is that there is an increase in LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” kind that’s associated with “increased chance of having heart attacks and the death of coronary heart diseases,” states Antonio M. Gotto Jr., MD who is a professor of medical sciences in the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and an expert in atherosclerosis and cholesterol.

Atherosclerosis is a slow process. “It may begin early in the course of life,” Gotto says. The appearance of fat streaks is common in the arteries of adolescents. autopsies performed on people aged 20 to 30 have shown “significant plaques in coronary arteries” Gotto says. “It does not happen over the course of a single night.” As time passes the plaque buildup could transform into a major health risk, increasing the chances of having a heart attack or strokes when people reach their 40s, 50s or 60s Gotto says. “Coronary disease has a significant increase in the 50s of males, and in the later 50s and early 60s for women.”
How do Arteries Harden

What causes atherosclerosis to develop? In arteries that are healthy the inner lining known as endothelium is smooth and unaffected. But injury or illnesssuch as diabetes and high blood pressure and high cholesterol can alter the lining of the artery which can lead to atherosclerosis.

Scientists don’t know what causes high cholesterol to damage the arteries, Gotto claims, however, Gotto lays out a theory that he believes is that the fatty acids carried by LDL get oxidized and damage the walls of blood vessels. “The more LDL circulating in blood and the more wall is injured.” An inflammatory reaction ensues, Gotto says. “The blood vessel reacts with an inflammatory reaction in response to an injury. It reacts to this just like you scratched the finger.”

Atherosclerosis is triggered when white blood cells migrate through the artery’s lining wall. They change into foam cells that build up cholesterol and fat. Other substances, like calcium, can also accumulate in the area. At some point, an atherosclerotic clot also known as an atheroma, develops.

The plaques enlarge and harden the artery’s wall and expand into the bloodstream. They reduce or stop the flow of blood. If an atheroma ruptures it could cause a blood clot that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. The most common cause of atherosclerosis is the coronary artery that runs through the left anterior [one of the principal arterial arteries in the heartand carotid arteries of the neck, as well as the abdominal aorta Gotto states.
Then Lowering Your Cholesterol

While LDL is detrimental, HDL, a “good” cholesterol form is beneficial to arteries. Apart from reducing swelling in the damaged vessels “it hinders the oxidation that occurs in LDL,” Gotto says, “and we think that HDL can draw some cholesterol out of cells that line the arterial wall and transfer this back into the liver which is where the body gets rid of the cholesterol. The higher the concentration of HDL is, the lower is the chance of cardiac attacks as well as cardiovascular diseases.”

Check your cholesterol levels He says. “It’s best to consult your physician about atherosclerosis before you start to notice symptoms. And unfortunately for many the first sign could be fatal when they experience suddenly-onset cardiac deaths or arrest.”

Gotto suggests that patients talk with their doctor about the risk factors for atherosclerosis even while in their 20s. Then, they should have a blood test taken to measure cholesterol levels. Prior to age 40, take an annual check every 3 to 5 years for cholesterol, Gotto suggests, after age 40, you should test every year.

When Richman discovered her results were unsettling She decided to replace whole milk products with low-fat dairy food. She also ate more heart-healthy salmon. She also started walking for an hour every week, five times. The results have been slowly. The cholesterol readings of her have fallen slightly from 269 to 247 and she hopes to bring her cholesterol readings low enough that she will not need to take cholesterol-lowering medications.

“At at the start, I was thinking ‘Oh Wow, I’m sick I’m sick!'” she states. “But I started to get my levels back down which has been positive.”