Cholesterol like oil is insoluble in blood therefore it needs to be carried from one place to another in the body. These carriers are called lipoproteins (fat (lipid) + protein). There are basically two types of these: the low density (LDL) and the high density (HDL).
LDL (Bad) Cholesterol
Why bad? Because it helps form plaques in the blood vessels that are hard deposit that makes the vessels thicker and less flexible. This condition is called: atherosclerosis. This deposition also leads to narrowing of the vessels. Heart attack or stroke results if a blood clot forms and gets dislodged in the narrow part of a vessel and preventing blood supply to that part. Dr. Philip Chua of the Cebu Cardiovascular Center adds that arterial blockage deprives your tissues and organs of oxygen and accelerates the aging process.
HDL (Good) Cholesterol
What makes it good? Because this carries the bad cholesterol to the liver where it is broken down to be excreted from the body. Therefore, a fair amount of good cholesterol may be good for the heart. Or we can put it this way: the higher the High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) the better the heart and body will be.
What can follow if bad cholesterol is high?
- Heart Disease: Arterial blockade due to high LDL can lead to lack of oxygen rich blood supply to the organ it is feeding. If this happens in the arteries supplying the heart (coronary arteries) this can lead to coronary artery disease. This presents as: chest, abdominal, neck, back, jaw or arm pain, as well as weakness, excessive sweating and shortness of breath. A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, happens when the blood supply to heart muscles is so low that it leads to a permanent damage.
- Stroke: If the arteries supplying the brain are narrowed, the result can be a transient ischemic attack (mini stroke) or a stroke. Mini stroke (blood supply to brain cut off for less than 24 hours) can present as: numbness, confusion, visual disturbances and loss of balance. A stroke (when the blood supply stops completely): symptoms are similar to those of a transient ischemic attack, but can cause permanent injury or death.
One should maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising adequately, eating healthy foods and thinking good thoughts.
“Take care of your body; it’s the only place you have to live”. –Jim Rohn
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