How High Cholesterol Affects Health

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found throughout the body to help it function properly. There are two types of cholesterol; low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

The LDL cholesterol is transported throughout the body from the liver, and the HDL cholesterol returns to the liver to be eliminated from the body. Therefore the HDL is the good cholesterol, but the LDL is the bad, and when those levels are too high it can affect health in a negative way.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the most common disease that results from high cholesterol levels. When the LDL levels become too high, they simply begin to build up along the walls of the arteries throughout the body, and slow down the blood circulation.

Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is one of the first signs of heart disease. It is a condition where the arteries become hardened and narrow from the plaque build up caused by high cholesterol levels.

Hypertension. Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. It occurs when the arteries become narrow and the blood has a difficult time getting through. Therefore the heart has to pump super hard in order to supply the body with enough blood and oxygen.

Angina or Heart Attack. This is when one or more arteries that supply blood to the heart become blocked due to cholesterol buildup. If the arteries become narrow and cannot deliver enough oxygen to the heart, chest pains (angina) may occur, and if an artery becomes completely blocked, then a heart attack occurs.

An angina will not damage the heart, but a heart attack is very serious and often results in damage and even death.

Carotid Blockage (Stroke). This is when an artery to the brain bursts or becomes blocked. As a result the brain does not receive enough oxygen, and thus the brain cells begin to die.

Claudication. Claudication is when the arteries in the legs become blocked, making it painful for the person to walk. The blood circulation is slowed down particularly in the legs and feet.

Cancer

Studies show that high cholesterol levels may also be associated with the progression of certain types of cancers such as leukemia. According to one study, the high levels of cholesterol caused more cells from the bone marrow to enter into the bloodstream; and in doing so, it creates more room for malignant cancer cells to come in contact with the bone marrow.

How to Reduce Cholesterol

Cholesterol is produced by the liver in small amounts, but it also comes from animal fats such as meat, dairy and eggs, as well as other foods high in saturated fats. Thus the risks can be reduced by opting for low-fat products, and avoiding fried foods and processed foods that are high in fat.