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How Does High Blood Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease

How Lifelong Cholesterol Levels Can Harm Or Help Your Heart

Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

The longer you have high levels of bad LDL cholesterol, the greater your risk of a heart attack.

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By Nicholas Bakalar

LDL, or bad cholesterol, is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. Now a new study suggests that, like smoking, it has a cumulative effect over a lifetime: The longer a person has high LDL, the greater their risk of suffering a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

Coronary heart disease, also known as hardening of the arteries, is the leading cause of death in the United States. It is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries that narrows the vessels and blocks the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. Often, people have no symptoms and remain unaware they have the disease for years until they develop chest pain or suffer a catastrophic event like a heart attack.

Using data from four large prospective health studies, researchers calculated LDL levels over time in 18,288 people who had multiple LDL tests taken at different ages. They calculated their cumulative exposure to LDL and followed their health for an average of 16 years. The study is in JAMA Cardiology.

The researchers found that the longer a person had high levels of LDL no matter what their LDL level is in young adulthood or middle age the greater the risk for coronary heart disease. Compared with those in the lowest quarter for cumulative exposure, those in the highest had a 57 percent increased risk.

Myth: I Dont Need Statins Or Other Medicines For My Cholesterol I Can Manage My Cholesterol With Diet And Exercise

Fact: Although many people can achieve good cholesterol levels by making healthy food choices and getting enough physical activity, some people may also need medicines called statins to lower their cholesterol levels. Guidelinesexternal icon also suggest that other medicines in addition to statins may be needed to help control cholesterol.2

People who may need statins or other medicines to manage cholesterol levels include the following:

  • People with familial hypercholesterolemia or people with very high levels of bad cholesterol. FH is a genetic condition that causes very high LDL cholesterol levels beginning at a young age. If left untreated, cholesterol levels will continue to get worse. This greatly raises the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke at a young age.
  • People with cardiovascular disease . People with CVD may already have narrowed arteries because of too much plaque. Medicines that lower cholesterol may help reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke.
  • People with diabetes.Type 2 diabetes lowers HDL or good cholesterol levels and raises bad cholesterol levels. This combination raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Other groups of people may also need medicines to manage their cholesterol, including people who have a high risk for CVD. Always talk to your health care provider about the best ways to manage your cholesterol.

Myth : If You Have Heart Disease You Need To Take It Easy

“For the vast majority of people with heart disease, being sedentary is a bad idea. It can lead to blood clots in the legs and a decline in overall physical condition,” says cardiologist Dr. Richard T. Lee, co-editor in chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. Physical activity helps strengthen the heart muscle, improves blood flow to the brain and internal organs, and improves overall health and well-being.

What you can do: Ask your doctor what kind of exercise would be right for you, and how much you should do. Most people can walk, and any amount of walking is good for your heart.

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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 .

Myth : Heart Disease Is Really A Man’s Problem

The Truth About High Cholesterol  Central Georgia Heart ...

Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over age 65, just as it’s the leading killer of men.

What you can do: Whether you are a man or a woman, ask your doctor to conduct a baseline heart examination that includes checking your cholesterol and blood pressure. Then follow your doctor’s recommendations.

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How Is High Cholesterol Treated

The main goals in treating high cholesterol are to lower your LDL levels and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. To lower cholesterol, eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. Some may also need to take cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Doctors determine your “goals” for lowering LDL based on the number of risk factors you have for heart disease.Ã Based on your risk, your doctor will determine the intensity of LDL reduction you need, and prescribe a medication accordingly.

Implications For People With Diabetes

These findings are especially relevant to people with diabetes who are considered at higher risk to develop CVD. Recent recommendations have even suggested statin therapy for all individuals with diabetes starting at age 40. Meanwhile, in addition to well-established side effects, at least one study has demonstrated that statin therapy appears to increase fasting blood glucose levels, especially in individuals with diabetes.

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Can High Cholesterol Be Prevented Or Avoided

Making healthy food choices and exercising are two ways to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol.

Eat fewer foods with saturated fats . Choose healthier fats. This includes lean meats, avocados, nuts, and low-fat dairy items. Avoid foods that contain trans fat . Look for foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods include salmon, herring, walnuts, and almonds. Some egg brands contain omega-3.

Exercise can be simple. Go for a walk. Take a yoga class. Ride your bike to work. You could even participate in a team sport. Aim to get 30 minutes of activity every day.

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The History Of Cholesterol And Saturated Fat

Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

In 1796, The First American Cookbook was published by Amelia Simmons. In it, she used lots of butter, lard, organ meats, and pork. It shows how people used to eat back in the day, lots of saturated fats, and animal products. Vegetable oils and processed foods were non-existent. Keep in mind that heart disease rates were at record lows.

It wasnt until 1910, where vegetable oils became mass-produced. People stopped using butter and started using margarine and canola oil. This is when heart disease rates started to rise . In 1955, President Eisenhower had a heart attack , and everyone was quick to blame cholesterol. But nobody was talking about his cholesterol levels. It was 165 mg/dl, well below 200 mg/dl, which is considered safe.

How did someone with low cholesterol suffer a heart attack?

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Gender Age And Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Generally, men have a higher risk than women of developing CVD in middle age. The risk rises as they get older.

However, the risk of developing CVD is an important issue for women, especially as they get older. It is not clear why women tend to get CVD at a later age than men, although it is likely that hormonal changes after menopause, combined with changes in their risk factors, play a role.

Despite your gender and age, you can reduce your risk of developing CVD if you follow a healthy lifestyle and take medicines as prescribed by your doctor.

How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed

You cant tell if you have high cholesterol without having it checked. A simple blood test will reveal your cholesterol level.

Men 35 years of age and older and women 45 years of age and older should have their cholesterol checked. Men and women 20 years of age and older who have risk factors for heart disease should have their cholesterol checked. Teens may need to be checked if they are taking certain medicines or have a strong family history of high cholesterol. Ask your doctor how often you should have your cholesterol checked.

Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Having an immediate family member who has had heart disease.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Inactivity.

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The Second Nail In The Cholesterol Theory Coffin

By 2014, the medical community had at least become aware enough of the issue to debate it. The April 14th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association inaugurated a new feature called Viewpointan in magazine debating forum for arguing out key medical issues of the day. Think of it like a civilized version of Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtains Point/Counterpoint sketches on Saturday Night Live.3 The subject of the first debate was statin drugsor more precisely: Should a 55-year-old man who is otherwise well, with systolic blood pressure of 110 mm Hg, total cholesterol of 250 mg/dL and no family history of premature CHD be treated with a statin?

Needless to say, despite the overwhelming evidence presented by the team from the Archives of Internal Medicine, the debate changed little. Like the zombies in World War Z,7 statin drug prescriptions continued to surge forward, chasing down the living and their life force as represented by their medical insurance dollars.

Is High Cholesterol Really A Problem

Pin on Know Your Risk

High cholesterol can be a problem for anyone, regardless of your body type and regardless of how healthy you might try to be. It can afflict anyone, which is why its so important to verify your cholesterol levels with your doctor at least once a year. When your doctor tells you that your cholesterol is high, they are likely referring to high LDL, since thats the number you want to keep below a certain threshold. High cholesterol can be a problem for a multitude of reasons, as it can both directly cause several life-threatening diseases and be indicative of other health issues that need to be addressed.

Typically, your doctor will test both your good and bad levels to give you your current readings, then provide the healthy range for your body type, height, age, etc. That way, if your good cholesterol is too low or your bad cholesterol is too high, you know how far away you are from being in a safer range. Your doctor will also discuss how you can improve your levels through diet, exercise, and cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Medication is typically the last resort, but it can be highly effective for those who either suffer from high cholesterol due to genetics or have had little to no success with dietary changes and regular exercise routines. However, there are many foods that can help lower your LDL levels, some by eating and some by avoiding.

To lower LDL levels, choose MORE of these foods:

To lower LDL levels, choose LESS of these foods:

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Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease: What Different Studies Say

Does high cholesterol cause heart disease or not? This is one of the popular concepts that researchers are studying for years in order to find the perfect evidence that shows link between cholesterol and heart disease. In this article, we will try to understand these studies and know whether the two are connected or not.

To start with, lets know

What About Medications

Statins are the most well-researched medications for lowering cholesterol. They can lower your risk for heart disease if youre already at high risk.

However, there are a few important things to note about statins and cholesterol medications:

  • While many medications can lower cholesterol levels, only some, such as statins, have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • Whether or not you would benefit from a cholesterol medication depends on your overall risk for heart disease. Healthcare providers estimate this risk based on your cholesterol levels as well as other factors mentioned above .

  • If youve already had a heart attack or stroke, you are at high risk for a second heart attack or stroke. Many people with this risk should be on statins. But talk to your healthcare provider about whether a statin is right for you.

Some other cholesterol-lowering medications that your provider may recommend in addition to statins are listed below.

Your provider may also recommend other medications to help with high cholesterol, such as the following:

  • Fibrates, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels.

  • Bile acid sequestrants cause your body to get rid of bile acids. Your liver then uses up cholesterol from your bloodstream to replace the lost acids.

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What Is Cholesterol

Cholesterol helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Normally, the liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs. But cholesterol also enters your body from food, such as animal-based foods like milk, eggs, and meat. Too much cholesterol in your body is a risk factor for heart disease.

Why Does It Matter

The Cholesterol Myth and the True Cause of Heart Disease

You might be asking yourself, why does it matter what causes heart disease? Is it that important to know whether its bad LDL cholesterol or something else?

The reason we believe this is so important is because understanding the cause of a disease is the first step to preventing it. If you know the risk factors, youre likely to change the actions you do every day to lower your risk. However, if we get these risk factors wrong, we might actually be doing more harm than good.

So, whats the answer? Should we be worried about eating foods with saturated fat? Should everyone be taking drugs to reduce cholesterol levels?

Or is there a better way?

Our current view is that high levels of bad LDL cholesterol in the blood are not the main cause of heart disease. Instead, we believe theres another hypothesis that provides a good explanation for all the known risk factors for heart disease.

But before we get into this, lets understand a bit more about heart disease and the current widely held hypotheses.

Key points:

  • Its important to know whether LDL cholesterol causes heart disease because understanding the cause of a disease is the first step to preventing it.
  • Currently, the evidence suggesting LDL cholesterol is to blame for heart disease seems weak.

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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:

  • pies
  • 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.

Quit smoking

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.

Move more

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.

Cholesterol medication

Myth : If You Have Smoked For Years You Can’t Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease By Quitting

The benefits of quitting smoking start the minute you quit, no matter your age, how long you have smoked, or how many cigarettes a day you have smoked. Only one year after quitting, your heart attack risk will have dropped by 50% in 10 years, it will be the same as if you never smoked.

What you can do: Seek help to quit smoking. Many people require stop-smoking aids, such as nicotine patches, nicotine gum, or a stop-smoking medication, to be successful.

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