How Cholesterol is Linked to Heart Disease?

How Cholesterol is Linked to Heart Disease? Dr Tamkeen Kinah (Heart Specialist in Dubai)

Have you ever wondered what is cholesterol and why it’s often associated with heart disease?

Despite its bad reputation, cholesterol plays an essential role in our bodies. But when levels become imbalanced, it can lead to serious health issues like diseases of the heart and vessels .

We’ll dive into cholesterol types and cholesterol symptoms and explore how it is intricately linked to heart health.

What is Cholesterol ?

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to heart disease. Regular heart checkups can detect problems early, allowing for timely interventions and a higher chance of successful treatment. Dr. Tamkeen Kinah, a renowned cardiologist, can assist in various diagnostic procedures, including Echocardiogram, Exercise treadmill test, CT Coronary Angiogram (Cardiac CT), etc.

Preventive Measures for Heart Health

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance present in each cell of our bodies. It serves various vital functions, such as building cell membranes that produce hormones such as testosterone and estrogen and aiding in the digestion of fats. While our bodies produce the cholesterol necessary for these functions, we also get additional cholesterol from certain foods. It’s important to note that not all cholesterol is created equal.

There are two primary types: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

  • LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad” because it can build up in the walls of the artery, leading to blockages.
  • On the other hand, HDL cholesterol is known as “good” since it helps remove excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream.

Measuring your total blood cholesterol levels involves evaluating both LDL and HDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides—a type of fat stored in the body—contributing to overall heart health. High levels of LDL cholesterol or triglycerides combined with low HDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk of developing heart disease.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what is cholesterol and its different types, let’s explore how this intricate lipid plays a role in heart disease development.

The Connection Between Cholesterol and Heart Disease

Cholesterol is a fatty substance essential for building cells and producing certain hormones. Excess levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition where fatty deposits, including cholesterol, build up on the walls of arteries. This process is a key factor in the development of heart disease. Here’s how it works:

  1. Formation of Plaques: When too much cholesterol is in the bloodstream, it can mix with other substances to form plaques. These plaques are deposits that can accumulate on the inner walls of arteries.
  2. Atherosclerosis: Over time, the plaques grow, harden, and narrow the arteries. This process is called atherosclerosis. The narrowing of the arteries reduces blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle.
  3. Reduced Blood Flow: As the arteries become narrower due to the buildup of plaques, the blood flow to the heart is reduced. This can lead to ischemia, where the heart muscle do not receive enough blood and oxygen.
  4. Other Cardiovascular Events: Atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries and can also impact other arteries throughout the body. If plaques form in the arteries supplying blood to the brain, it can lead to a stroke. If they affect the arteries in the legs, it can cause peripheral artery disease.

High cholesterol symptoms

There are no specific high cholesterol symptoms. It’s often called a “silent” condition because you can’t feel high cholesterol build up. The only way to detect it is through a blood test. However, high cholesterol levels can promote the development of atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), leading to:

  • Angina or chest pain: Reduced blood flow to the heart muscle due to narrowed arteries.
  • Heart attack: If the artery that supplies blood to the heart becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack, which may manifest as severe chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or vomiting.
  • Stroke: When arteries that lead to the brain are narrowed or blocked, it can result in a stroke. Common symptoms of a stroke are sudden weakness in the arm, or leg especially on one side of the body; trouble speaking or confusion and difficulty walking.

How to reduce cholesterol: Treatment options

  • Lifestyle Changes: Healthy changes are often the first step in managing high cholesterol. This includes adopting a heart-healthy diet; low in trans fats and saturated fats, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Medications: Sometimes, lifestyle changes alone may not adequately lower cholesterol levels. You may be prescribed medications such as statins, which helps to reduce LDL cholesterol production in the liver.
  • Dietary Supplements: Certain dietary supplements have shown promise in modestly lowering triglyceride levels. These include plant sterols or stanols, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, soluble fiber supplements like psyllium husk, and garlic extract.

Understanding the connection between heart disease and cholesterol is essential to promoting heart health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues. By maintaining their cholesterol levels and living a healthy lifestyle that incorporates regular exercise, a balanced diet, and other preventive measures, people can avoid heart disease. Comprehensive care and individualized guidance for optimal heart health can be obtained through consultations with skilled cardiologists at Dubai, Dr Tamkeen Kinah. Schedule an appointment right now to see the best cardiologist for heart in Dubai.

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