How Cholesterol Affects Heart?

24 Feb 2011
Posted by geenu
Cholesterol along with triglycerides are an indispensable structural and metabolic component of all animal cells. Cholesterol is a chemical compound which is naturally produced by the body. About eighty percent of our cholesterol is produced by the liver and the rest depends on our diet. Foods such as red meat and butter are rich in cholesterol where as those from plant origin have very little or no cholesterol at all. The control of cholesterol in our body is done by the liver. 
Elevated lipids:
Adverse cholesterol levels are closely related to ‘hyperlipidaemia’ a term used to express excess lipids (i.e., cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood stream. Hyperlipidaemia can be roughly categorised into ‘hypercholesterolemia’ where the cholesterol levels are raised and ‘hypertriglyceridemia’ whereas triglycerides, the most common form of fat are found at elevated levels  in the body.
Types of Cholesterol:
The excess fat protein complexes in the blood are called as Lipoproteins. The most common lipoproteins are Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and High Density Lipoproteins (HDL).
The Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol contributes to sixty to seventy percent of the total serum cholesterol. These complexes promote’ atherosclerosis’ a process which causes the cholesterol plaque to thicken the arteries thereby increasing the chances of coronary heart disease.
The High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is a “good”  cholesterol and makes up about twenty to thirty percent of the total serum cholesterol.  It is termed “good” because it prevents the development of atherosclerosis.
The VLDL or Very Low Density Lipoprotein is a cousin of the LDL and contains ten to fifteen percent of the total serum cholesterol. It is rich in triglycerides and is usually said to be the stickiest form of artery cloggers and also the hardest to measure. It is usually measured on the basis of free triglycerides in the blood stream. Therefore it can be rightly said that the triglycerides and the VLDL levels are directly proportional to each other.
Total cholesterol is the sum total of LDL, HDL, VLDL and IDL (Intermediate Density Lipoprotein). The level of LDL cholesterol in the blood is mainly determined by the liver. The LDL receptors that are present in the cell wall of the liver, helps in removing all the excess LDL or bad cholesterol.
The normal levels of cholesterol depend on a variety of factors such as age, genes and culture. Generally total cholesterol of below 200mg/dl is said to be ideal. The universally accepted levels of cholesterol and their break ups are given below:
Total Cholesterol:
Normal : below 200 mg/dl
High :     above 240 mg/dl
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL):
Normal : below 130 mg/dl
High       :     above 160 mg/dl
High Density Lipoproteins (HDL):
Normal :         above 35 mg/dl
Best   : above 60 mg/dl
Triglycerides:
Normal :       below 150 mg/dl
High   :     above 200 mg/dl
 
Causes 
Adverse cholesterol levels, collectively reffered to  as hypercholesterolemia are usually a result of our diet, age, stress and hereditary factors. Diets which are filled with saturated fatty acids tend to contribute towards the deposition of bad cholesterol in our system. Red meat, organ meat and vegetable oils like coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa oil etc are considered  as rich sources of  bad cholesterol as well.  They are usually seen in increased levels in women at the onset of menopause. There are also certain instances where the LDL receptors are found to be minimal or literally non-existent in people hereditarily, thereby leading to increased LDL levels.
 
Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD):
The raised levels of lipids if left unchecked can lead to a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels called “cardio vascular diseases”. They refer to the problematic conditions of the heart, arteries and veins that supply oxygen to the vital organs.’ Arteriosclerosis’ restricts the flow of blood to the heart due to plaque or excess fat deposits. This in turn restricts the oxygen supply to the brain resulting in a stroke. High blood pressure (hypertension) is the ‘silent killer that eventually leads to a heart attack. CVD may also result in damaged heart tissues which results in abnormally high or low heart rates called as ‘cardiac arrhythmia’. People whose diets are rich in saturated fat, who neglect their exercise and those who are chain smokers are more prone to this disease.  Maintenance of the lipid levels within their normal range plays a pivotal role in the prevention of CVDs.  The methods of treatment followed are angiograms, angioplasty and by-pass surgery.
 
Methods of control
The easiest method of reducing cholesterol and triglycerides and thereby preventing CVDs is to take a sincere effort to make a few changes in our lifestyle. The intake of fruits and vegetables in our diet has to be increased. Foods that are rich in saturated fats are to be avoided like the plague or reduced to a bare minimum.  Recently oats have found favor with the health conscious and is gaining prominence as the diet of their choice.
However, for those patients suffering from coronary heart disease, diabetes etc who fall in the high risk catagory, the LDL levels should be below 100mg/dl.The above mentioned supplements have got very little or no effect in these patients. They seek the aid of Cholesterol Synthesis Enzymes (CSE) inhibitors,'Statins' to help reduce their cholesterol levels. These lipid lowering agents and other supplements along with regular exercises help to keep the cholesterol and triglyceride levels within their limits thus contributing to maintaining a strong and healthy heart.

Tags:

Cholesterol and Heart

n general in high risk patients ( coronary heart disease, diabetes, etc.)

ldl level should be below 100 mg/dl. suppplements almost have no effect. 

diet has only got a small influence on lipid level.

most of these patients need statins ( cse inhibitors)


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