Myth: I Cant Do Anything To Change My Cholesterol Levels
Fact: You can do many things to improve your cholesterol levels and keep them in a healthy range!
- Get tested at least every 5 years .1,2 Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
- Make healthy food choices. Limit foods high in saturated fats. Choose foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
- Be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Learn more about physical activity basics and tips.
- Dont smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Learn more about tobacco use and ways to quit at CDCs smoking and tobacco use website.
- Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol if any medicines are given to you to manage your cholesterol, take them as they are prescribed. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
- Know your family history. If your parents or other immediate family members have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested more often. You could have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia .
Procedures To Unclog Arteries
Using invasive procedures, doctors can see and unclog arteries, or provide a path for blood to go around blocked arteries. Treatments include:
- Angiography, angioplasty, and stenting. Using a catheter put into an artery in the leg or arm, doctors can enter diseased arteries. This procedure is called cardiac catheterization. Blocked arteries are visible on a live X-ray screen. A tiny balloon on the catheter can be inflated to compress cholesterol plaque in the blocked arteries. Placing small tubes called stents helps to keep open blocked arteries. The stent is usually made of metal and is permanent. Some stents have medicine that helps keep the artery from getting blocked again.
- Surgeons harvest a healthy blood vessel from the leg or chest. They use the healthy vessel to bypass blocked arteries.
These procedures involve a risk of complications. They are usually saved for people with significant symptoms or limits caused by the cholesterol plaques of atherosclerosis.
What Causes High Cholesterol
Three major things contribute to high cholesterol levels:
People who are physically active, eat healthy foods, don’t have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, and aren’t overweight are less likely to have high cholesterol.
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Impacts Of A Complete Blockage
Artery blockages are not created equal. Treatment of an artery that is 97% blocked is much easier than treating one that has been 100% blocked for a long time. The symptoms chest pain, tightness and shortness of breath can be similar, though.Sometimes, when arteries become completely blocked, a new blood supply develops around the blockage. This new blood supply, called collaterals, won’t deliver as much blood to your heart. This can lead to those same symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath.If you have these symptoms, a stress test can help determine if they are caused by a blockage in an artery or something else. The first step is to see a doctor.
Surgery And Angioplasty Have Risks And It Takes Time To Get Better
Angioplasty is not as hard on your body as surgery, and the recovery is faster. But stents may not provide a lasting treatment and the original symptoms can come back within a year. Rarely, when a stent is being inserted, dangerous bleeding may happen and the stent may come apart.
Both procedures can, in rare cases, cause a partly blocked artery to close up completely. Then you may need an emergency procedure. If the procedure cannot be done right away, your leg may have to be amputated.
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What Are Normal Cholesterol Levels
A normal total cholesterol level is less than 200. A normal LDL level is less than 130. A normal HDL level is higher than 35.
A high HDL level is better. An HDL level higher than 60 is the best. HDL is called the good cholesterol because it helps remove cholesterol from your body. In this way, HDL helps prevent heart disease and stroke. Regular exercise is a good way to increase your HDL level.
If your total cholesterol level is 200 to 239, you have a borderline level. The word borderline is used because levels of 200 to 239 are close to being high. A total cholesterol of 240 or above is a high level.
If your LDL level is 130 to 159, you have a borderline level. If your LDL level is 160 or higher, you have a high level.
Myth: Fats Are Bad For Your Heart
Fourdifferent kinds of fats are found in our foods, and not all of them are bad.Artificially made trans fats, also called partially hydrogenated oils, are theworst.
Transfats, found in many baked goods and processed foods, raise bad LDL cholesterollevels. So do saturated fats, which come from animal products like red meat andbutter.
Replacingunhealthy saturated fats with healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturatedfats may actually lower your LDL levels, Dr. Gillinov says.
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Recovering From Your Test
You will not have a lengthy recovery period after your test is complete. Once we have finished analyzing your arteries, we will take out the catheter and put pressure on your insertion site for about fifteen minutes.
After this process is complete, we will instruct you to rest your body for a couple of hours. After you have finished resting, you will be able to go back to your usual routine.
Ways To Lower Cholesterol
Check your own cholesterol level and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.
Here are 5 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol in control:
It’s important to make healthy living a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family’s lifestyle will have a positive effect on your family’s health now and far into the future.
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Natural Remedies And Lowering Cholesterol
Its very important to talk to your health professional before using any:
- natural remedies
- or complementary therapies.
Sometimes they can do more harm than good. They may interact with any medication that youre taking, which can be dangerous. They can also make your medication less effective. Your doctor needs to know everything that you are taking to ensure that the combination is safe.
If youve been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication, make sure you take it as directed by your doctor. This is one of the most effective ways to keep your cholesterol levels down.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Clogged Arteries
An artery is a type of blood vessel that transports blood to your legs, arms, and other areas of your body. When your arteries are healthy, your blood will flow smoothly throughout your body.
Unfortunately, plaque can build up in your arteries and damage your blood flow. There are a number of warning signs that may indicate that you have developed clogged arteries.
How Is High Cholesterol Treated
If your child has an LDL cholesterol level of 130 mg/dL or higher, your doctor will talk to you about lifestyle changes or refer you to a dietitian. The goals are to:
- reduce fat and cholesterol in the diet
- increase exercise
- lose weight, if needed
Your doctor will probably do a cholesterol check again after 36 months of lifestyle changes.
Medicine might be considered for kids 10 and older whose LDL cholesterol is 190 mg/dL or higher if changes in diet and exercise haven’t worked. Kids with risk factors, such as diabetes or high blood pressure or a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, may need treatment at lower LDL levels.
How To Lower Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medications or both.
Here are some ways to manage your cholesterol.
Eat heart-healthy food
What you eat can make a big difference to your cholesterol levels.
Cut back on foods high in saturated fats like:
- oily fish.
Drink less alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. So drinking less is a good way to lower your cholesterol.
The Ministry of Health recommends no more than 10 standard drinks per week for women and no more than 15 for men. One standard drink is equal to:
- a standard can of 4% beer
- a small glass of wine
- a small single shot of spirits
If you have high cholesterol or you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition, you may need to drink less than this.
Smoking makes your LDL cholesterol stickier and reduces the amount of HDL cholesterol in your blood. It also damages the artery walls. This increases the build-up of plaque in your arteries and can cause risk of heart attack and stroke.
Quitting smoking is a great way to lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Sitting less and being more active are great ways to reduce high cholesterol.
This doesnt mean you have to join a gym or take up running it just means you need to move your body more throughout the day. Ideally you should do 30 minutes of activity a day.
You could try:
Read more about the benefits of exercise.
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If Your Stress Test Was Normal Does This Mean You Cant Possibly Have Severely Blocked Coronary Arteries
How much faith should you put in the cardiac stress test?
A stress echocardiogram or a nuclear stress test are each about 90 percent accurate in correctly identifying a severe coronary blockage, i.e., at least one of the coronary arteries has a narrowing greater than 70 percent)., explains Dr. Larry Santora, MD, cardiologist, medical director of cardiac CT, and medical director of the Vascular and Wellness Center, Saint Joseph Hospital, Orange, CA, and author of OC Cure for Heart Disease.
However about 10 percent of the time it will miss the blockage, and the stress test will be falsely negative, explains Dr. Santora.
These false negative stress tests are more common in women . It is more common to have a false negative if the blockage is in the circumflex artery which, on the back side of the heart, is more likely to be missed since it tends to be a smaller artery, and rarely, even if all three arteries are equally blocked .
This got me wondering, then, about someone with a high coronary calcium score who has a normal stress test.
He may worry he might be in that 10 percent in which the test results are not accurate.
Dr. Santora explains, There is no test in medicine that is 100 percent accurate not a mammogram or colonoscopy, etc.
If you have a high coronary calcium score and you are asymptomatic , and your stress test is normal, the probability of a severe blockage at that time is very, very low.
Pad May Affect The Whole Body
Its important to remember that atherosclerosis is not a localized process it is a systemic disease that affects the arteries everywhere in the body. To that end, if you have PAD, you have a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack, Dr. Kirksey notes.
Medication and lifestyle changes, including stopping smoking, are very important for patients who have any evidence of a decrease in the blood flow in their legs and feet.
So listen to your body and report when your body is talking to you. Charlie horses in your legs and muscle cramps may be a sign of vascular disease.
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How Common Are Clogged Arteries
Each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 735,000 people have a heart attack and 610,000 people die of coronary heart disease . Thats one in four deaths. Preventing heart disease in patients is a physicians main goal, but early detection is the next best thing. This can lead to changes in lifestyle and medical therapies that can delay or deny the onset of a heart attack almost 80 percent of heart disease is preventable with lifestyle changes. Many of my patients are shocked to learn about the following unexpected symptoms of clogged arteries and heart disease.
Cholesterol Plaques And Atherosclerosis
Cholesterol plaques form by a process called atherosclerosis. Itâs also called “hardening of the arteries.” LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” is the raw material of cholesterol plaques. It can damage the arteries that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Then, once the damage has started, LDL keeps on building up in the artery walls. Progressive and painless, atherosclerosis grows cholesterol plaques silently and slowly.
The cholesterol plaques of atherosclerosis are the usual cause of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral arterial disease. These conditions together are major contributors to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in America, causing about 650,000 deaths each year.
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What Can Happen If Your Arteries Become Clogged Up
If your arteries become clogged up with blood fats, your blood can’t flow around your body easily. This can lead to a number of diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
These diseases are known together as cardiovascular disease cardio refers to the heart, and vascular refers to the blood vessels.
Coronary heart disease
This is where the arteries have become clogged up and stiff with atherosclerosis. The blood cant flow around the body and back to the heart easily, and blood clots can form. This can lead to chest pain, heart failure, heart attacks and strokes.
This is a dull, heavy or tight pain in the chest which can spread to the left arm, neck, jaw or back. It happens when the arteries leading to the heart have become narrowed and the heart doesnt get enough oxygen. The pain can be brought on by exercise or activity, as the heart needs more oxygen during physical activity.
A heart attack
This is a medical emergency. It happens when an artery leading to the heart becomes completely blocked, often by a blood clot, cutting off the blood supply. Part of the heart muscle quickly dies, but if its treated very early the blockage can be removed.If you think you or someone you are with is having a heart attack, call 999 straight away. The signs of a heart attack include:
- a crushing pain in the chest
- feeling weak or faint
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Top Misconceptions About High Cholesterol
This post is available in: Spanish
Did you know that slender people can have high cholesterol? Or that getting older even if youre physically fit can cause LDL, or the bad cholesterol, to rise?
There are plenty of misconceptions about cholesterol, and that can make some adults candidates for life-altering events, such as a heart attack or a stroke.
Cholesterol circulates in the blood and can mix with other substances to form a thick, hard deposit on the inside of the arteries. This can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible a condition known as atherosclerosis.
If a blood clot forms and blocks one of these narrowed arteries, a heart attack or stroke can result. This is why high cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
Nearly one of every three U.S. adults have high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol , which is considered the bad cholesterol because it contributes to fatty plaque buildups and narrowing of the arteries. About 94.6 million, or 40 percent, of U.S. adults have total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or higher. LDL-C levels of 100 mg/dL or lower are linked to lower rates of heart disease and stroke.
High cholesterol is one of the major controllable, or modifiable, risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. If you have other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes, your risk increases even more.
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No Symptoms No Testing Needed
Screening for PAD probably doesnt make sense for a healthy individual without symptoms, who is younger than 60 years old, has never smoked and has no family history of atherosclerosis or heart disease, he adds.
In this case, screening may actually expose a patient to more risk. This is because the tests can occasionally be incorrect and lead to much more invasive testing, which has its own inherent risks.
Drugs And Lifestyle Changes To Cut The Chance Of Having Atherosclerosis
Reducing the risk factors that lead to atherosclerosis will slow or stop the process. Ways to lower the amount of cholesterol in your body involve taking cholesterol and blood pressure medications, eating a healthy diet, getting frequent exercise, and not smoking. These treatments won’t unclog arteries. But they do lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Here is some advice that can help you improve your cholesterol level and reduce the risks that come with atherosclerosis:
- Exercise, with or without weight loss, increases “good” HDL cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- A diet high in fiber and low in fats can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
- Oily fish and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can raise âgoodâ HDL cholesterol.
- If you know or think your cholesterol is high, or if you have a family history of high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about ways you can lower it.
Statins are the most frequently prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs. They can dramatically lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, by 60% or more. They can also increase HDL. Studies have shown that statins can reduce the rates of heart attacks, strokes, and death from atherosclerosis.
Bile acid sequestrants
Other drugs for lower cholesterol
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