Understanding The Dangers Of A High Cholesterol Level

The dangers of a high cholesterol level can be manifested in terms of various diseases and complications. If a person has a high cholesterol level, the excessive LDL is expected to accumulate on the artery walls which can then build up in combination of substances to form a plaque. This is just one of the many dangers of a high cholesterol blood level. The plaque can narrow an artery like a clogged drain which then leads to arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.

These plaques can be formed anywhere. When they are formed in the coronary arteries through which the heart muscle is supplied with blood, it’s known as a coronary heart disease. Other disease that may develop as a result is angina in which the heart muscle doesn’t get the needed blood. This disease causes a squeezing pain in the chest.

Childhood obesity usually leads to high cholesterol levels during adulthood. This has strong relationship with a person’s chances of getting a heart disease. High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. Each year, millions of Americans have heart attacks and about a half million of them die from heart disease. One accepted principle in the medical world is “the higher the cholesterol, the higher the level of heart and blood vessel disease”. What makes high cholesterol more risky and dangerous is the fact that high cholesterol risks are usually not immediate. The damage accumulates over years and decades -- high cholesterol in the 20s and 30s can take its toll in the 50s and 60s. Because the effects take time, many people don't feel real urgency in treating it. They feel they can just deal with it later. Experts have been associating high cholesterol with heart diseases for some time. A study showed that a 10% decrease in total cholesterol may reduce a person’s risk for heart disease by 30%. LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol because it tends to be deposited in the lining of the arteries. This in turn causes atherosclerosis, in which the arteries becomes narrowed, restricting the blood flow and hence the supply of oxygen and other vital nutrients.

Atherosclerosis can lead to chest pain (angina) and ultimately, to a heart attack. Atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to the brain can cause a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) while in the leg arteries the condition can cause pain when walking (claudication) and even gangrene.

Another danger of high cholesterol is its association to metabolic syndrome which is the state of insulin resistance that often precedes diabetes. As a person becomes insulin resistant, he develops a cycle that leads to the release of more and more insulin to compensate - commonly known as hyperinsulinemia. This disease can stimulate lipid storage and alter lipoproteins which can increase the risk of damage to the cardiovascular system.

People having hyperinsulinemia may lead the liver to produce more of the blood lipids called triglycerides which causes a blood fat disorder called Dyslipidemia. This disease is usually diagnosed when a person is having a high level of bad cholesterol, low HDL or good cholesterol and high triglyceride.

Most people ignore their cholesterol levels until such time when they are already faced with the actual dangers of high cholesterol level. It is thus important to go for cholesterol testing regularly just to make sure your cholesterol is still within the healthy level.

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