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Lowering Your Cholesterol

The high cholesterol level can be detrimental to the arteries as well as your health. Here’s how to combat.

When Ramona Richman’s sister had been diagnosed with elevated cholesterol, 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 her news of the fact that she also was suffering from high cholesterol she was stunned. Her cholesterol reading that was 269 mg/dL, which is above the ideal levels that is below 200 mg/dL. “My sister was diagnosed with high cholesterol and was prescribed medications, and I think that it’s genetic,” Richman, 48 says.

Genetics are a cause of high cholesterol however, so is being overweight, physically inactive and eating a diet that is that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. The liver produces all the cholesterol that the body requires however many people receive large amounts through their food. Whatever the reason high cholesterol is a risk. It plays a significant role in the progression of atherosclerosis or the narrowing and hardening of arteries, which increases the chance of having a heart attack and stroke.

When doctors speak of high cholesterol, they aren’t referring to that amount of cholesterol one 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” type that is 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 can begin as early as the course of life,” Gotto says. Fat streaks may show up in the arteries of adolescents. autopsies performed on people who are in their 20s shown “significant plaques in coronary arteries” Gotto adds. “It does not happen in the night.” In time the plaque buildup could become a health risk, increasing the chances of having a heart attack or stroke when people reach their 40s, 50s or 60s Gotto says. “Coronary disease is a dramatic increase in the 50s of men, and later in the 50s and 60s for women.”
How do Arteries Harden

What causes atherosclerosis to manifest itself? In arteries that are healthy the inner lining known as endothelium is healthy and smooth. However, injury or diseasesuch as diabetes or high blood pressure and high cholesterol can alter the lining of the artery and lead to atherosclerosis.

Researchers aren’t certain what causes high cholesterol to damage the arteries Gotto claims, however, Gotto offers a hypothesis that the fatty acids absorbed by LDL are oxidized, and cause damage to the walls of blood vessels. “The greater the amount of LDL circulating in blood and the more wall is damaged.” An inflammatory reaction ensues, Gotto says. “The blood vessel responds through an inflammatory reaction in response to an injury. It responds like you scratched with your fingers.”

Atherosclerosis is triggered as white blood cells are pushed into the artery’s lining wall. They change into foam cells that are able to accumulate cholesterol and fat. Other substances, like calcium, can also accumulate on the site. At some point, an atherosclerotic clot also known as an atheroma, develops.

The plaques enlarge and harden the artery wall , and then bulge into the bloodstream. They reduce or stop the flow of blood. When an atheroma breaks, it could create a blood clot, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Atherosclerosis most often affects the coronary artery that runs through the left anterior (one of the major coronary arteriesand carotid arteries that run through the neck, as well as the abdominal aorta Gotto states.
Reduce Your Cholesterol

While LDL is detrimental, HDL, a “good” cholesterol type is beneficial to arteries. Apart from reducing the inflammation of damaged blood vessels, “it hinders the oxidation that occurs in LDL,” Gotto says, “and we think that HDL can draw some cholesterol from the cells of the arterial wall, and then transport it to liver which is where the body gets rid of the cholesterol. The higher the concentration of HDL is, the lower is the chance of coronary heart attack and diseases.”

Be aware of your cholesterol levels He says. “It’s recommended to speak to your physician about atherosclerosis prior to when you start to notice symptoms. And unfortunately for many the first sign could be fatal in the event of an unexpected cardiac demise or arrest.”

Gotto suggests that patients talk with their physician about risk factors for atherosclerosis when they are in their 20s. They should also have a blood test taken to measure cholesterol levels. Prior to age 40, take an annual blood test for cholesterol every 3 years Gotto suggests, after 40, take a test each year.

When Richman discovered her results were unsettling she switched out whole-milk products with low-fat dairy food. She consumed more heart-healthy fish. 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 a peak of 269 to 247 and she is hoping to get her cholesterol levels down enough to not require cholesterol-lowering medications.

“At at the start, it was “Oh my god, I’m sick”” she declares. “But I began to see my levels back down which has been positive.”