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25 / 10 / 2014
High blood cholesterol
 
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High blood cholesterol

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Tens of millions of adults have high blood cholesterol. If you're among them, you may be on your way to heart disease. Because of its reputation as a risk factor for heart disease, people tend to think of cholesterol only in negative terms. But cholesterol is an important component of cell membranes and is vital to the structure and function of all of your body's cells. Cholesterol also is a building block in the formation of certain types of hormones.

When the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, a blood fat, in your bloodstream become too high, your likelihood of developing cholesterol-containing fatty deposits (plaques) in your blood vessels increases. Over time, plaques cause your arteries to narrow, which impedes blood flow and creates a condition called atherosclerosis. Narrowing of the arteries that supply your heart with blood (coronary artery disease) can prevent your heart from getting as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs. This means an increased risk of a heart attack. Likewise, decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke. Less blood flowing to your lower limbs may result in exercise-related pain or even gangrene.

Complications

High blood cholesterol can cause you to develop heart disease. The American Heart Association reports that heart disease kills over 1.4 million Americans each year, more than all cancer deaths combined. Many of these deaths occur because of the accumulation of fatty deposits (plaques) on the walls of your arteries (atherosclerosis), resulting in narrowed or blocked arteries. Cholesterol plays a significant role in this largely preventable condition.

Atherosclerosis is initially a silent, painless condition that results in reduced blood flow. If reduced flow occurs in the arteries that supply your heart with blood (coronary arteries), it can lead to a type of chest pain called angina pectoris.

As a plaque enlarges, the inner lining of your artery becomes roughened. A tear or rupture in the plaque may cause a blood clot to form. Such a clot can block the flow of blood or break free and plug an artery downstream.

If the flow of blood to a part of your heart is stopped, you'll have a heart attack. If blood flow to a part of your brain stops, a stroke occurs.

High blood cholesterol along with high blood pressure, insulin resistance and obesity are factors that make up metabolic syndrome, a combination of disorders which greatly increases your risk of developing heart disease, stroke or diabetes.

high blood cholesterol > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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