High Cholesterol and Heart Disease

Your body needs cholesterol to function properly but too much of it can cause it to deposit in the blood vessels.

These deposits, called plaques (made up of cholesterol, proteins and calcium), cause local inflammation and damage to the blood vessels.

Eventually, these plaques build up so much that blood flow is blocked off. Hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis is the term used to describe this process.

Partially blocked arteries supplying oxygen and blood to the heart muscle will eventually cause angina (chest pain).

Angina is one of the common symptoms of this deadly process. By the time you suffer from angina symptoms, one (or more) of your arteries supplying blood to your heart tissue is at least 70% blocked.

If the blockage is very severe, it can lead to a heart attack known in technical term as a myocardial infarction.

What is Good and Bad Cholesterol? I Thought Cholesterol Were All Bad?

Cholesterol is moved around the blood vessel with the help of a transport molecule called lipoprotein.

The "good" cholesterol, called high density lipoprotein (HDL) takes cholesterol back to the liver for processing.

This is a good thing. Higher levels of HDL are associated with a reduced risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The "bad" cholesterol, called low density lipoprotein (LDL) is responsible for causing fatty plaque deposit. High levels of LDL increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis.

One other remaining type of fat is called triglycerides. Triglycerides are used to make HDL and LDL. High levels of them speed up atherosclerosis as well.

When you get your cholesterol levels checked, your doctor provides you with a total cholesterol value and a breakdown showing the triglycerides, LDL and HDL values.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

The major contributing factors to the development of high cholesterol are a poor diet, genetic factors (heredity), lack of physical activities, diabetes and hypothyroidism.

In some individuals, their genetics are primarily responsible for their cholesterol levels, a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia. This condition comes from a defective gene from one of your parents.

In these individuals, their LDL is extremely high, leading to an extremely high risk of developing heart attacks and heart disease at an early age.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of High Cholesterol?

Unfortunately, there are no clear symptoms of elevated cholesterol levels.

Only a blood test would be able to tell you what your cholesterol levels are.

If heart disease or cholesterol problems run in your family, see your doctor to get your cholesterol levels checked.

Often, you find out you have a cholesterol problem either during a routine test or when you experience symptoms from clogged arteries.

These symptoms may include chest pain (angina) from mild to moderate exercise or activities, poor circulation and memory problems.

We need to point out that the condition of high cholesterol is often associated with high blood pressure.

Foods to Avoid If You Have High Cholesterol

One of the most common cause of elevated cholesterol level is a poor diet consisting of large quantity of saturated fats, hydrogenated fats, low fiber and products high in sugar.

Cut back on eating or using saturated, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats such as butter, margarine or vegetable shortening. Reduce eating refined sugar products such as candies and soda pop.

Foods to Take to Lower Cholesterol

Fruits, oats (oatmeal), brown rice and beans have been shown to lower cholesterol significantly.

This is because they contain soluble fiber which is proven to lower the "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and increase the "good" cholesterol (HDL). As well soy and soy protein containing foods such as tofu, barley and avocados can be very helpful.

Remember that not all oil is bad for you. Fish oil and olive oil will lower your cholesterol. As well, fish oil shows many other benefits in protecting the heart against damage. It is highly recommended by experts for anyone with heart related ailments to take this supplement daily.

Natural Remedies to Treat High Cholesterol

See the article Natural Remedies for Treating Cholesterol Problems for a complete list of remedies suggested by experts. This is a comprehensive list of remedies used around the world. Some of the you will recognize quickly and probably comment "Oh, I knew that already!"

Indeed, there are many to choose from. Use this comprehensive list as a starting point in finding which one (or more) you would like to take.

The Complete List of Remedies for High Cholesterol

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Since high cholesterol causes heart disease, there are also natural remedies that help with heart disease as well.

It is also worth a look to find out remedies that will take care BOTH high cholesterol and heart disease at the same time. Don't be surprised if you end up needing to take several remedies to battle these health problems.

The Complete List of Remedies for Heart Disease

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Which Vitamin Can I Use to Lower My Cholesterol?

It is unfortunately that there are essentially no good vitamins that would help with lowering cholesterol.

Vitamin D might be the only one that might benefit some people. But that's only from population study, a study design that cannot show a direct cause and effect.

See the article on Vitamins to Treat Cholesterol Problems to get the facts.

Vitamins simply do very little to lower high cholesterol. Sorry about this.