Story by: Norton Healthcare on January 25, 2019
Too much bad cholesterol or too little good cholesterol coursing through your bloodstream increases the risk that the waxy substance can start lining the walls of arteries that supply blood to the heart and brain.
That’s bad enough, but why exactly can high cholesterol cause heart disease?
Whether the good kind — HDL — or the bad kind — LDL — cholesterol is naturally present in your blood. Cholesterol is the substance that surrounds cell membranes, keeping out fluids that would turn them to mush.
A healthy liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. Additional cholesterol comes from eating animal fats or tropical oils often found in baked goods. Palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil can trigger your liver to make too much cholesterol.
As cholesterol builds up in the arteries, it can mix with other substances to form a thick, hard deposit of plaque. As long as the deposits stay put, all is seemingly fine. But they aren’t inclined to stay put.
The cells at the core of the deposit are like the magma inside a volcano. Eventually, they can burst through, breaking the plaque into pieces and sending it into the bloodstream. The eruption causes clots to form. The clots can block blood flow, and that’s when a patient has a heart attack or stroke.
Despite efforts to diagnose and treat heart disease early, many Americans are unaware of their risk. Are you one of them?
Not necessarily. The lab tests tell you how much cholesterol — good and bad — is in your blood. It doesn’t tell you how much has built up on the walls of your arteries. That’s not going away without causing damage.
If you’ve got your cholesterol under control, good job. But what’s already built up and continues to build up, just at a slower rate, can still give you heart disease.
The best any of us can do, whether we had a bad cholesterol number at some point or not, is slow the buildup inside our arteries.
If you’re short of breath when climbing stairs or during other activity, don’t pass it off as a symptom of aging, putting on weight or simply being out of shape.
Talk to your primary care physician and consider whether you have any of the other links to heart disease:
A cardiologist can perform a low-radiation calcium scan that can identify any blockages. The test, however, often isn’t covered by insurance if you don’t have symptoms.
Select an appointment date and time from available spots listed below.