Cholesterol travels in the blood in tiny packets known as lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins: LDL- low density lipoproteins and HDL- high density lipoproteins. Although LDL is known as the “bad” cholesterol, an adequate supply of both lipoproteins is necessary for proper functioning. LDL stays in the blood vessels and builds up plaque on the walls of the arteries. HDL gathers extra cholesterol and carries it to the liver. The liver purifies the blood and removes excess cholesterol from the body.
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When a person has too much cholesterol, it can cause coronary heart disease. The chances of heart disease increase with the level of LDL in the blood. Conversely, the higher the level of HDL, the less chance of developing heart disease.
Coronary heart disease is a condition that results from a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels around the heart. Plaque is formed by cholesterol, fat, calcium and other blood components. The medical term for a buildup of plaque is atherosclerosis. Over time, plaque will harden, and as a result, the arteries and veins become narrower. The narrowed vessels cannot bring oxygenated blood to the heart as effectively. Plaque can build up to almost completely blocking blood from reaching the heart. This can cause a heart attack. Without immediate medical intervention, a heart attack can cause serious damage to the heart and body, and in some cases, will even be fatal.
Plaque can also build up in the blood vessels around other major organs, as well as in and around the brain. These conditions are known as carotid artery disease, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.
Optimal levels of lipoproteins are as follows: LDL level should be below 100 mg/dL and the HDL level should be above 60 mg/dL. (It is also important to measure the level of triglycerides in the blood. A triglyceride level above 200 mg/dL requires treatment.)
High cholesterol does not have any symptoms. Most people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are high. Heart problems can indicate that cholesterol levels were markedly high for a while. Every adult past twenty years of age should have their cholesterol levels measured once every five years.
Healthful and Helpful
Lowering cholesterol levels will decrease the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Many factors affect the cholesterol level; some are hereditary, but others factors can be affected by lifestyle and level of activity.
To treat high cholesterol, a doctor will usually prescribe medication. These medications, however, have many side effects. When the side effects are extensive, people look for natural methods. Bergamont Fruit Extract has demonstrated its benefits with supporting healthy LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels. Additionally, Olive Leaf Extract supports cardiovascular wellbeing by inhibiting the oxidation of cholesterol into dangerous pro-inflammatory compounds associated with cardiovascular risk. Zahler CholestStall contains these and additional ingredients to help support healthy cholesterol levels. Omega 3 Platinum+D can also be very helpful as it raises HDL levels.
A careful diet is of critical importance. Eggs, fish, meat, and poultry all contain cholesterol. Read nutrition labels. Avoid foods with high cholesterol, and avoid trans and saturated fats to help lower cholesterol levels.
Weight: Obesity raises the level of LDL. Conversely, exercise can raise the level of HDL in the blood. Losing weight and increasing exercise can help reach a good balance.
Genetic predisposition: A tendency towards high cholesterol levels can be hereditary. Inform your doctor if you have close relatives with high cholesterol.
Smoking: If you are a smoker, QUIT! Chain smoking has a harmful effect on all body systems, especially the circulatory system. There are many programs to help with this. Discuss your options with a doctor. Your health is, quite literally, in your own hands!
A three-faceted program has been created to help fight high cholesterol. Known as TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes), this program advocates a healthy diet, weight control and exercise. TLC advises the following for anyone looking to keep their cholesterol levels under control:
• Your daily fat calories (any kind of fat) should comprise no more than 25%-35% of your overall daily nutrition.
• Eat plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.
• Decrease your sodium/salt intake.
• Decrease the amount of alcoholic beverages.
Lifestyle changes are not always enough. Sometimes, enough damage has been done to the circulatory system that it requires medical intervention in addition to lifestyle changes.
• Heart valves are about the size of a half-dollar coin.
• An average heart beats about 100,000 times a day.
• The heart pumps 1½ gallons of blood per minute.
• Exercise is the best way to keep your heart healthy.
• On average, a woman’s heart beats 8 times more per minute than a man’s heart.
• The blue whale has the largest heart in the animal kingdom. It weighs 1500 pounds!