Myth: Women Dont Need To Worry About Heart Disease
In fact, more women die from heart disease every year than from breast cancer.
Mentend to develop coronary artery disease and have heart attacks at younger agesthan women. But after menopause, the risk for heart attack levels out andis the same for women and men.
Thegood news is that the chance that a woman will survive heart attack hasincreased by 56% due to earlier recognition and management of heart disease,says Dr. Gillinov.
Onereason women arent always diagnosed with heart disease is that many use theirOb/Gyn for primary care and never get a heart examination. Women should have acomplete head-to-toe checkup with baseline heart exams in early adulthood, henotes. This allows for risk factors to be identified and discussed before theyimpact the heart.
Myth: I Would Be Able To Feel It If I Had High Cholesterol
Fact: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too latewhen you have a heart attack or stroke. Thats why its so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2 Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.
Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels.
What Are Recommended Cholesterol Levels By Age
Lipids are the by-products of common fat we eat. Lipids are classified as triglycerides , diglycerides , and steroids. Cholesterol is a steroid helping in the formation of cell membranes and hormones. Further, this cholesterol is classified as Low-Density Lipoprotein or LDL, and High-Density Lipoprotein or HDL also called good cholesterol. VLDL is another type of cholesterol secreted by the liver into your bloodstream. VLDL stands for Very-Low Density Lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are formed partly by proteins and partly fat. All three types of lipoproteins vary in the proportion that is made of cholesterol, protein, and triglycerides. VLDL has more of triglycerides, LDL more of cholesterol, and HDL more of protein. That is the reason, LDL and VLDL are together known as the bad cholesterol, they both have a significant role in the formation of plaque. Now, plaque is a thick solid sticky mass made of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other similar substances that get deposited in the arterial lumen interrupting the blood flow.
All in all, both types of bad cholesterol adversely affects your heart health either by getting deposited in the lumen of your arteries or under your skin and in the liver. If the lumen is completely choked, the organ may not get any blood supply. The plaque may burst and move to smaller arteries blocking them completely.
According to the American Heart Association, the following are the age-wise recommended cholesterol levels:
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How To Lower High Ldl Cholesterol
- A healthy diet. Try not to eat things that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, or simple carbs such as sugar and white flour. Eat more fiber and plant sterols such as margarine or nuts.
- Regular exercise. The kind that gets your heart pumping is best.
- Weight loss. Losing even 5 to 10 pounds can improve your cholesterol levels.
- Quitting tobacco. If you have a hard time giving up smoking, your doctor can help you find the program thatâs best for you.
- Medication. Some drugs, like statins, help keep your body from making cholesterol. Another, ezetimibe , lowers the amount of cholesterol your body gets from food you eat. If you canât take statins or have a severe form of high cholesterol, you might get shots of PCSK9 inhibitors. These meds help your liver remove more LDL from your blood.
Social Determinants Of Health
Social determinants such as neighborhood disadvantage, immigration status, lack of social support, social isolation, access to health services play an important role in myocardial infarction risk and survival. Studies have shown that low socioeconomic status is associated with an increased risk of poorer survival. There are well-documented disparities in myocardial infarction survival by socioeconomic status, race, education, and census-tract-level poverty.
Race: In the U.S. African Americans have a greater burden of myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular events. On a population level, there is a higher overall prevalence of risk factors that are unrecognized and therefore not treated, which places these individuals at a greater likelihood of experiencing adverse outcomes and therefore potentially higher morbidity and mortality.
Socioeconomic status: Among individuals who live in the low-socioeconomic areas, which is close to 25% of the US population, myocardial infarctions occurred twice as often compared with people who lived in higher SES areas.
Immigration status: In 2018 many lawfully present immigrants who are eligible for coverage remain uninsured because immigrant families face a range of enrollment barriers, including fear, confusion about eligibility policies, difficulty navigating the enrollment process, and language and literacy challenges. Uninsured undocumented immigrants are ineligible for coverage options due to their immigration status.
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How Did Your Type B Ldl Level Get High In The First Place
Though dietary changes can go a long way to ensure your LDL levels are optimal, there are other factors – including lifestyle changes – Id like you to know about that could be raising your Type B count. They are:
You see my point, right? The facts about LDL cholesterol are more complex than labeling it bad indicates.
Youll Need More Than Prescribed Medication
The medication prescribed by your doctor is essential in treating your high levels of cholesterol. But, you can do more to ensure that your cholesterol levels remain at the right level.
Eat the right foods. We hear this said so often and we seldom take it seriously. What you eat plays a massive role in your health. With bad cholesterol, poor eating habits only increase the levels, and often with untoward results.
Choose the food you eat carefully. Bad cholesterol is found in foods that have a high fatty content. They are also found in processed foods. It is suggested that a food plan that is low in saturated and trans fats and high in soluble fibers and protein is excellent for lowering and maintaining cholesterol levels.
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Everlywell: Your Heart Health Insight Partner
High LDL cholesterol levels are one of the risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, by maintaining a diet that limits animal products and incorporates plenty of fresh produce, whole grains, and healthy fats, you can limit your LDL intake and help maintain your heartâs health.
At Everlywell, we believe itâs important to arm yourself with the information you need to understand your health. With our at-home Heart Health Test, you can gain insight into your cholesterol levels so that you know when itâs time to make changes to your lifestyle.
Ready to take action on your longterm health and wellness? Let Everlywell help.
Hdl Versus Ldl Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein . Lipoproteins are made of fat and proteins. Cholesterol moves through your body while inside lipoproteins.
HDL is known as good cholesterol because it transports cholesterol to your liver to be expelled from your body. HDL helps rid your body of excess cholesterol so its less likely to end up in your arteries.
LDL is called bad cholesterol because it takes cholesterol to your arteries, where it may collect in artery walls. Too much cholesterol in your arteries may lead to a buildup of plaque known as atherosclerosis. This can increase the risk of blood clots in your arteries. If a blood clot breaks away and blocks an artery in your heart or brain, you may have a stroke or heart attack.
Plaque buildup may also reduce blood flow and oxygen to major organs. Oxygen deprivation to your organs or arteries may lead to kidney disease or peripheral arterial disease, in addition to a heart attack or stroke.
Centers for Disease Control , over 31 percent of Americans have high LDL cholesterol. You may not even know it because high cholesterol doesnt cause noticeable symptoms.
The only way to find out if your cholesterol is high is through a blood test that measures cholesterol in milligrams per deciliter of blood . When you get your cholesterol numbers checked, youll receive results for:
To treat high cholesterol, doctors often recommend these lifestyle changes:
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Does Age Make A Difference To Recommended Cholesterol Levels
No, recommended cholesterol levels do not change based on age. It was once thought that high cholesterol becomes less of a problem as one ages. However, there is now good evidence that lowering high cholesterol is of benefit even in the elderly.
Previously, there was also concern that some cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins may interfere with ones cognitive function and that this might be more of an issue in the elderly. This has now been debunked. Nevertheless, it is worth starting with a low dose and gradually increasing to avoid any potential side effects.
New Research Challenges Hypothesis
Research published this week in the British Medical Journal suggests otherwise. And according to researchers, provides rationale to reevaluate heart health guidelines.
The research team comprised of experts from seven different countries evaluated data collected from 19 studies on a total of 68,094 older adults. The team was seeking to determine if LDL cholesterol is associated with death in the older adults.
According to the cholesterol hypothesis, it should directly relate. According to the BMJ study, it doesnt.
Researchers say almost 80 percent of the participants in the studies who had high LDL cholesterol did not die because of their cholesterol level.
On the other hand, researchers discovered people with low levels of LDL cholesterol, or LDL-C, had the highest rates of death related to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
These findings provide a paradoxical contradiction to the cholesterol hypothesis, researchers wrote. The cholesterol hypothesis predicts that LDL-C will be associated with increased all-cause and mortality.
Overall, the researchers four of whom have published books criticizing the cholesterol hypothesis say, the benefits from statin treatment have been exaggerated.
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Low Cholesterol And Preterm Birth Or A Baby With Low Weight
In a study, published in the October 2007 issue of the journal Pediatrics, nearly 13% of the women with very low cholesterol gave birth prematurely.
The researchers also found that white women were more at risk and that almost 21% of white women with the very low cholesterol levels had preterm deliveries.
On an average, the preterm babies of mothers with low cholesterol weighed five ounces less than babies delivered full term to mothers with moderate cholesterol.
Ldl Cholesterol: How Low Can You Go
- By Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD, Contributor
Elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is a clearly established risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease . Lowering LDL with medications and/or lifestyle changes has been shown to lower CVD risk. Just how far to lower LDL, however, has remained controversial.
Current guidelines developed by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and several other professional organizations recommend lowering elevated LDL levels to 70 milligrams per deciliter in people with high-risk CVD. However, recent studies have suggested that CVD risk may continue to drop as LDL is lowered beyond these targets, leading some cardiologists to believe that our current guidelines are not aggressive enough. Others are concerned that lowering LDL too much may lead to harm.
Living With High Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, you are twice as likely to develop heart disease. That is why it is important to have your cholesterol levels checked, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Reducing your LDL bad cholesterol through good diet, exercise, and medicine can make a positive impact on your overall health.
Foods That Help Keep Cholesterol Levels In Check
Now that weâve discussed some of the foods you shouldnât eat, letâs talk about some of the substitutions you can make to ensure youâre getting the nutrients you need . As weâve discussed, animal products can fill your diet with unwanted cholesterol. In contrast, plant-based foods wonât elevate cholesterol levels.
Some of the best food options for cholesterol management, and overall health, include:
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Measuring Ldl Cholesterol Levels
Given the severity of what it can lead to, its little wonder that screening LDL levels is an important and essential part of health evaluation. This is measured using a blood test called a lipoprotein profile. Heres a breakdown of how the assessment works:
- Fasting: You may have to fast for 9 to 12 hours before your appointment for an accurate LDL level. This means holding back from eating, having certain beverages, or taking some medications.
- Sampling: The lipoprotein test, like other blood tests, only requires a small sample of blood. Its usually drawn from a vein in the arm, and all youll feel is a pinprick.
- Multiple Measures: The amounts of four lipoproteins are measured: LDL, HDL, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels. Other lipoproteins such as very low-density lipoprotein may be measured as well.
Recommendations as to how often you should have your cholesterol levels checked vary based on your age and health status. Typically, adults over the age of 20 should be screened once every five years, with the first test administered when children are 9 to 11. Men aged 45 to 65, and women 55 to 65 should be screened every one to two years.
However, more frequent assessment is needed for those who have certain risk-factors for heart disease, including:
Notably, in men over 40, LDL levels will be part of an equation used to determine risk of developing stroke or heart attack within 10 years.
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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What Has The Biggest Impact On Ldl Cholesterol
Contrary to the long-held belief that dietary cholesterol itself is a major cause of high LDL, evidence suggests a weaker link. It’s still a good idea to steer clear of dietary cholesterol, but that intake isn’t the biggest influence. The current understanding is that the specific mix of carbohydrates and fats in your diet is the biggest factor in determining your LDL levels.
What Are The Different Types Of Cholesterol
There are two types: high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein . As a general rule, HDL is considered good cholesterol, while LDL is considered bad. This is because HDL carries cholesterol to your liver, where it can be removed from your bloodstream before it builds up in your arteries. LDL, on the other hand, takes cholesterol directly to your arteries. This can result in atherosclerosis, a plaque buildup that can even cause heart attack and stroke.
Triglycerides make up the third component of cholesterol and act as unused calories that are stored as fat in the blood. Eating more calories than you burn can cause triglycerides to build up in the bloodstream, increasing your risk for heart attacks.
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Substitute Healthy Oils In Place Of Butter And Margarine
Of course, its not always realistic to avoid fats when youre whipping up a tasty meal. When you do need to add fat for cooking, baking or pan frying, use healthy oils instead of solid fats, like butter, margarine, shortening and lard.
Solid fats are high in saturated fats, but oils are high in unsaturated fats, which remember are better for you. The American Heart Association recommends using oils that have less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon .
Many times, its easy to swap a solid fat to a healthier one. Try using olive oil, sunflower oil or grapeseed oil in place of a solid fat.
For example, if youd rather use olive oil than butter, substitute three quarters the amount of butter in a recipe with olive oil. You might also bring out some new, surprising, subtle flavors, too.
Checking Your Blood Cholesterol Level
A cholesterol screening is an overall look at the fats in your blood. Screenings help identify your risk for heart disease. It is important to have what is called a full lipid profile to show the actual levels of each type of fat in your blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others. Talk with your healthcare provider about when to have this test.
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Your Body Needs A Lot Of Cholesterol
Your body makes its own cholesterol about 3,000 mg per day. Thats the equivalent each day of eating about 14 eggs, 300 strips of bacon, or roughly a pound of butter.
Why so much? Because your body needs sufficient cholesterol levels for these everyday functions:
- As the raw material for cell membranes. All of the 100 trillion cells in your body have a membrane that contains cholesterol. A healthy cell membrane allows exchange of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from outside to inside the cell and vice versa.
- For its anti-oxidant properties to prevent free radical damage
- For its anti-inflammatory properties
As well, your body needs cholesterol to respond to certain health crises such as to:
- Bind with and inactivate bacterial toxins when you have an infection
- Prevent damage from microbes
- Help repair damage to cell membranes by acting as a type of bandage
I know this is a lot to take in, but stay with me for the information thats most important for you to understand.