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Why Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease

Trans Fats And Saturated Fats

Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

Trans fats raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol. Both of these changes are associated with increased risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. Trans fats also offer no nutritional value.

Partially hydrogenated oils are the main source of trans fat in our diets. Theyre found in many types of processed foods.

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a final determination that PHOs arent safe for human consumption. Theyre now being phased out of our food supply. In the meantime, try to avoid food that lists PHOs or trans fats on the label.

Saturated fats are another source of LDL cholesterol and should be consumed sparingly. Foods containing saturated fats include:

  • sweet treats and pastries such as donuts, cakes, and cookies
  • red meat, fatty meat, and highly processed meat
  • shortening, lard, tallow
  • many fried foods
  • whole-fat dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, and cream

These high-cholesterol foods, along with processed and fast foods, can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Being overweight or obese raises your risk of heart disease as well as other health conditions.

Walking For Heart Health

Try walking to stay active. The Heart Foundation has community walking groups all over Australia you can join. Walking for an average of 30 minutes or more a day can:

  • Lower our risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes .
  • Manage weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Reduce our risk of some cancers.
  • Maintain bone density â reducing risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
  • Improve balance and coordination â reducing your risk of falls and other injuries.

What Numbers Should I Look For

Some recommend that everyone over age 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every 5 years. The test that is performed is a blood test called a lipoprotein profile. That includes:

  • Total cholesterol level

What Affects Cholesterol Levels?

A variety of factors can affect your cholesterol levels. They include:

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Myth : A Small Heart Attack Is No Big Deal

“A small heart attack isn’t a big deal in terms of how well your heart can function. It may even pass unnoticed. But it’s a huge warning sign that you have serious heart disease, and your next heart attack may kill you,” says Dr. Lee.

What you can do: Minimize your risk of heart attack by keeping your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure in a normal range, not smoking, and seeing your doctor regularly to make sure no risk factors are elevated.

Why Dietary Cholesterol Does Not Matter

Chiropractor in Matthews


High blood cholesterol levels are a known risk factor for heart disease.

For decades, people have been told that the dietary cholesterol in foods raises blood cholesterol levels and causes heart disease.

This idea may have been a rational conclusion based on the available science 50 years ago, but better, more recent evidence doesnt support it.

This article takes a close look at the current research on dietary cholesterol and the role it plays in blood cholesterol levels and heart disease.

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What Should My Cholesterol Levels Be

Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.

As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be:

  • 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults
  • 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk

As a general guide, LDL levels should be:

  • 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
  • 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk

An ideal level of HDL is above 1mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can increase your risk of heart disease.

Your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL may also be calculated. This is your total cholesterol level divided by your HDL level. Generally, this ratio should be below four, as a higher ratio increases your risk of heart disease.

Cholesterol is only one risk factor. The level at which specific treatment is required will depend on whether other risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, are also present.

Natural Remedies And Lowering Cholesterol

Its very important to talk to your health professional before using any:

  • supplements
  • 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.

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What Treatments Are Available For High Cholesterol

Treatment may include:

  • Addressing risk factors. Some risk factors that can be changed include lack of exercise and poor eating habits.

  • Cholesterol-lowering medicines. Medicines are used to lower fats in the blood, particularly LDL cholesterol. Statins are a group of medicines that can do this. The two most effective types are atorvastatin and rosuvastatin. Other medicines that lower cholesterol levels are ezetimibe and PCSK9 inhibitors.

Muscle Pain And Weakness

Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

The most common side effect is muscle pain and weakness, a condition called rhabdomyolysis, most likely due to the depletion of Co-Q10, a nutrient that supports muscle function. Dr. Beatrice Golomb of San Diego, California is currently conducting a series of studies on statin side effects. The industry insists that only 2-3 percent of patients get muscle aches and cramps but in one study, Golomb found that 98 percent of patients taking Lipitor and one-third of the patients taking Mevachor suffered from muscle problems.4 A message board devoted to Lipitor at contained more than 800 posts, many detailing severe side effects. The Lipitor board at contains more than 2,600 posts .

The test for muscle wasting or rhabdomyolysis is elevated levels of a chemical called creatine kinase . But many people experience pain and fatigue even though they have normal CK levels.5

John Altrocchi took Mevacor for three years without side effects; then he developed calf pain so severe he could hardly walk. He also experienced episodes of temporary memory loss.

Active people are much more likely to develop problems from statin use than those who are sedentary. In a study carried out in Austria, only six out of 22 athletes with familial hypercholesterolemia were able to endure statin treatment.9 The others discontinued treatment because of muscle pain.

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Desirable Blood Lipid Levels:

Less than 200 mg/dL = Desirable200-239 mg/dL = Borderline high240 mg/dL and above = High

LDL cholesterol:

Less than 100 mg/dL = Optimal100-129 mg/dL = Near/above optimal190 mg/dL and above = Very high

HDL cholesterol:

Below 40 mg/dL = Suboptimal 60 mg/dL and above = Optimal


Less than 150 mg/dL = Normal150-199 mg/dL = Borderline high500 mg/dL and above = Very high

Where Do The Cracks Begin To Show

You would think, given the widespread acceptance of the Cholesterol Hypothesis, that science would back it up nicely to explain cause and effect. In other words, the factors or conditions that increase your risk of heart disease would also show an increase in blood cholesterol, and factors decreasing your risk would lower blood cholesterol.

However, this is not always the case. When we look at a list of some of the most well-established risk factors for increasing and decreasing the risk of heart disease, theres a very poor correlation between risk and blood cholesterol levels. Simply put, if someone is at high risk of heart disease, we would expect to also see high cholesterol levels, but this isnt the case:

Effect on heart disease risk Effect on LDL cholesterol
Use of NSAIDs
Using cocaine

A key argument of those who support the Cholesterol Hypothesis is that cholesterol has actually been found to be present in atherosclerotic plaques.

However, there are also lots of other things in these plaques, like red blood cells. Interestingly, cholesterol is actually used in the formation of red blood cell membranes. Therefore, a different theory suggests that the cholesterol found in these plaques is from the membranes of red blood cells, rather than harmful free deposits.

Instead, it might be more helpful to go through what we do know and explore some facts that contradict the Cholesterol hypothesis.

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How Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease

When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries, causing a process called atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease. The arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if not enough blood and oxygen reach your heart, you may suffer chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack.

There are two forms of cholesterol that many people are familiar with: Low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein These are the forms in which cholesterol travels in the blood.

LDL is the main source of artery-clogging plaque. HDL actually works to clear cholesterol from the blood.

Triglycerides are another fat in our bloodstream. Research is now showing that high levels of triglycerides may also be linked to heart disease.

Cholesterol And Heart Disease: Whats The Evidence

Why Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease

Posted on 2nd July 2018 by Sasha Lawson-Frost

The idea that high cholesterol causes heart disease is so widespread youd have thought it was pretty much an established fact by now. High cholesterol is listed as one of the five main risk factors for heart disease by the British Heart Foundation , and the NHS public guidelines on cholesterol claim that your risk of developing coronary heart disease rises as your bloods cholesterol level increases . In supermarkets, youll find a significant array of spreads, yoghurts and cereals which claim to improve your cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of heart disease.

But what actually is the evidence that having high cholesterol, or high LDL levels, increases your chance getting heart disease? You may be surprised to learn that the studies available to us do not all point towards a causal connection between high cholesterol and heart disease. Different studies point towards a number of conflicting conclusions, and ultimately the picture is a lot more complicated than most media on the topic would suggest.

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Do I Need Treatment For High Cholesterol

including whether you are also diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.Ã Many health care providers recommend treating anyone with CVD with high-dose statin therapy. This includes those with coronary heart disease and who have had a stroke.

For those who do not have CVD, treatment is determined by your individual risk for developing heart disease. Ã That risk can be estimated using calculators which factor your age, sex, medical history, and other characteristics.Ã If your risk is high , your doctor may start you on treatment preventively. They generally keep in mind your preferences towards taking medication in generalFor those people whose risk is unclear, a coronary artery calcium score, which is a screening test looking for calcium in the arteries, can help determine the need for statins.

For both those who have CVD and those who do not, when the decision is made to start medication, the first choice is usually a statin.

Other special groups who may need treatment:

  • People with high triglyceride levels may benefit if they have other risk factors
  • People with diabetes: are at high risk, and a ldl under 100 is recommended for most
  • Older adults: a healthy, active older adult may benefit from the reduction you need, and be prescribed a medication accordingly.

How Are High Cholesterol And Heart Disease Related

Having high cholesterol raises your risk of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to your body. Plaque is made of cholesterol and other substances. Over time, plaque can narrow or completely block the arteries including the ones that serve your heart.

We tend to think of the heart pumping blood to the rest of the body. But the heart itself also needs a healthy blood supply. The coronary arteries are a network of arteries that nourish the heart with blood. Coronary artery disease occurs when atherosclerosis causes these arteries to be narrowed or blocked.;

Early on, coronary artery disease may not cause symptoms. But over time it can lead to:

  • Chest pain or trouble breathing when youre physically active or even when youre not active.

  • Heart attack, or myocardial infarction, which is when one or more of the coronary arteries is suddenly blocked, leading to death of the heart muscle.;

  • Heart failure, which is when your heart doesnt pump blood normally or pump enough to meet your bodys needs.

  • Irregular heart rhythm, which can cause a fluttering sensation in your chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, or lightheadedness.

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What To Make Of All Of This

I find that many patients will tend to over value their absolute cholesterol levels rather than the entirety of their risk profile. While these levels are important, they only tell one chapter in what is essence the book of your cardiac risk story.

Ultimately, you as the patient and I as the physician care about your risk of having a heart attack or stroke and taking steps to gauge that risk accurately. Those numbers on your cholesterol blood tests tell only a fraction of that risk. Whether through a risk calculator or through a Coronary Calcium Scan, risk assessment is an important step in helping to decide if your risk need to be treated.

Being Overweight And Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of a number of health problems, including:

Carrying extra weight around your middle is more of a health risk, so it is especially important for you to lose weight if this is the case.

To achieve a healthy body weight, balance the energy coming into your body through food and drinks, with the energy being used up by your body through regular physical activity.

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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.

A Functional Medicine Perspective On Heart Disease + Cholesterol

When you hear the word cholesterol, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is the idea of clogged arteries and heart attacks. This is what weve been taught, and as a nation, weve spent trillions of dollars spreading this belief. We have The War on Terror, The War on Drugs, and The War on Cholesterol. Of course, in the U.S., whenever we have a war on something, it will be accompanied by plenty of propaganda, whether true or not, and this has unintended consequences. But is this particular war justified?;Is it based on real science?

Article continues below

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Why Should I Care About My Cholesterol

While cholesterol is essential for life, too much of it in your blood can increase your risk for stroke and heart disease.

Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream in protein/fat particles. One type of particle, called low-density lipoprotein , delivers cholesterol to the body. LDLs are often called “bad” cholesterol.

Another type of particle, called high-density lipoprotein assist in the removal of cholesterol from the bloodstream. HDLs are often called “good” cholesterol. A high HDL level is considered to be a protective factor against heart disease.

If you have an excess amount of LDL in your bloodstream, waxy plaques can build up along your artery walls, causing arteries to narrow. Over time, arteries may become damaged with these plaques and susceptible to blood clots. This is called cardiovascular disease.;A blood clot in the heart can cause a heart attack. A blood clot in the brain can cause;a stroke.

What Are The Symptoms Of High Cholesterol

Causes And Risk Factors Of Coronary Heart Disease ...

High cholesterol itself does not cause any symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are too high. Therefore, it is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are. Lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it.

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Why Do I Have High Cholesterol

For many people, lifestyle plays a big role in the development of the condition. Its often due to a combination of diet and how active you are, as well as your genetic capacity to produce cholesterol, says Raj Khandwalla, MD, cardiologist and director of digital therapeutics at Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Being overweight and smoking can also increase your chances of developing high cholesterol.

What Is Heart Disease

The formation of heart disease is an extremely complicated process. In the medical world, heart disease is often referred to as cardiovascular disease , but for simplicity, well call it heart disease. Usually, heart disease develops over time and the final event is a heart attack or stroke.

Arteries and veins are the two types of large blood vessels in your body that transport blood. Arteries carry blood with oxygen from your heart to other organs, whereas veins take the blood back to the heart.

Heart attacks are normally a result of blood clots forming in the main artery that supplies the heart with blood . Strokes, on the other hand, tend to result from a blood clot forming in an artery in the neck and breaking off, blocking the blood supply to the brain.

The main process that contributes to the final heart attack or stroke is called atherosclerosis. This is just a scientific word to describe the build-up of plaques in the inner wall of arteries. Atherosclerosis results in the thickening and narrowing of these arteries:

Key points:

  • Heart disease develops over a long period of time and results in a heart attack or stroke.
  • Atherosclerosis contributes to heart disease by thickening and narrowing the arteries.;

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