Cholesterol, a soft, waxy substance, is stored in the fat (lipids) content of one’s blood stream. It is important to have some “good” cholesterol in your system. Cholesterol and other body fats cannot dissolve in the blood. They must be transported using special carriers called lipoproteins. There are many types, but the most important are the high and low-density lipoproteins. Lp(a) is a third type that can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack. We’ll also be discussing this one. HDL (high-density lipoproteins) are also known as “good cholesterol”.
Experts agree that HDL moves cholesterol from the arteries into the liver. There it is broken down and then expelled by the body’s natural evacuation process. Higher HDL levels seem to lower the risk of stroke or heart attack. A lower HDL level (40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg d/L for women) can indicate a greater risk of either one or both. HDL seems to remove cholesterol from plaques in the blood vessels. This can slow down or inhibit their growth. This is why HDL is so important for the human body. The HDL carries approximately 1/3 to 1/4 of our cholesterol.
The major carriers of cholesterol in the blood are low-density lipoproteins, (LDL). If too much LDL is in the bloodstream, it can cause a buildup on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the brain and hearts. Plaques can form when LDL is combined with other substances. Plaques are thick, hard coatings that can block arteries and reduce blood flow to the brain or heart. Plaques can block blood flow and cause blood clots. This can lead to a heart attack if it occurs in the arteries that lead to the heart.
A stroke is more likely if it occurs in the arteries that lead to the brain. A higher risk of developing heart disease is indicated by a LDL level of 160 mg/dL and above. If someone has been diagnosed with heart disease, it’s strongly recommended that they maintain a LDL level of less than 100mg/dL. Lp(a), cholesterol lipoprotein, which is less well-known to the general public, can also increase your risk. This is a generic variant of plasma (the “fluid”, which carries blood cells through one’s bloodstream) and LDL. Higher levels of Lp(a), can lead to plaque buildup, which specialists and physicians refer to as “arthersclerosis”.
Although there is no evidence to support the idea that Lp(a) causes an increase in heart disease risk, it is believed that natural lesions that occur in the walls of our arteries may contain substances that interact. This could lead to the formation of fatty deposits. Where can we get cholesterol? The consensus is that the human body can produce the cholesterol necessary to maintain good health. The average daily intake of cholesterol by the body, especially the liver, is approximately 1,000 mg.
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The amount of cholesterol that is consumed by the average person when they eat the usual foods like whole milk, eggs, fish, poultry, meat, fish, and seafood is not enough to maintain a healthy level. Transfats and saturated oils are two of the main contributors to excessive cholesterol consumption. Other fats found in foods can also increase blood cholesterol. Although some excess fat is eliminated by the liver, most heart specialists recommend that an average person consume less than 300mg daily. If someone has been diagnosed as having heart disease, the recommended daily intake should be less than 200mg.
Extremely high cholesterol may require more drastic measures to control it. How can I control my intake? Controlling your intake is easy. It’s a proven method of controlling one’s intake. Limit one’s consumption to 6 ounces of lean fish/poultry/meat daily and limit oneself to low-fat/no-fat dairy products. Beans and high-protein vegetables can be substituted for the protein required for good health.
Regular exercise is a must. Even a moderate amount can increase blood flow. For those with high cholesterol, a daily exercise program that includes leisurely walking, gardening and light yard work, as well as slow dancing, is recommended. Brisk walking, jogging and weight lifting are all options. Aerobic exercise is a great way to improve one’s breathing and heart rate. Regular exercise can help with weight control, blood pressure, and diabetes prevention. Regular, moderate-to-intensive exercise can help strengthen your heart and lungs. Most doctors and specialists recommend that you quit smoking. It has been shown that smoking tobacco increases the risk of developing heart disease.
The amount of oxygen that one consumes, which is essential for good vascular circulation and good health, is greatly reduced. Smoking is a bad habit that can cause high HDL cholesterol levels, blood clots and other health problems. Some studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption actually increases HDL cholesterol levels. It is important to weigh the risks of alcoholism and obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, certain forms of cancer, and sometimes depression.
Moderation is key. Limit your intake to 1-2 drinks per day for men and 1 for women. Don’t drink if you don’t already. There are safer and better ways to control cholesterol. Before you begin any exercise program or consume alcohol as a way to lower cholesterol, consult your doctor. Your doctor can help you determine the best steps to take to achieve your goals. To determine your cholesterol levels, have an annual screening (usually a blood draw). Before deciding whether you should have your cholesterol levels checked for Lp(a), lipoproteins, it is important to discuss any family history or other concerns with your doctor. When fully informed, your doctor can better assess your risk factors, diagnose you, and recommend possible treatment. This may include prescription medication.