Why is cholesterol dangerous
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that our body produces in the liver. Do we need cholesterol? We sure do! Cholesterol is needed for production of hormones, vitamin D, bile acids, and other substances. But then why such a fuss about it? Well, if your cholesterol levels rise too high than medical problems may occur. The fact is that 6 out of 10 adults have increased cholesterol levels which means an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. People with increased cholesterol levels usually have high blood sugar levels as well.
Of course not all grown ups have dangerously high cholesterol and blood sugar levels, but some of them do. In worst cases, high levels of cholesterol could result in cardiac arrest which can end with death of an individual. High blood sugar levels may lead to diabetes, which can be a fatal condition as well.
Which levels of cholesterol are considered high?
For USA population, cholesterol values are expressed in mg/dl units. Normal cholesterol level are considered values under 200 mg/dl. If HDL cholesterol level is above 40 mg/dl than this is considered normal. The same goes for LDL cholesterol level – if measured values are below 100 mg/dl then we can say this is a normal LDL cholesterol level.
In Europe, standard units for measuring cholesterol levels are mmol/l. Normal cholesterol level is anything less than 5 mmol/l. If HDL cholesterol level is above 1,1 mmol/l this is considered normal. For LDL cholesterol, anything below 3 mmol/l is treated as normal.
Do not panic. If your cholesterol levels are just slightly or moderately higher than above values there's still much you can do on your own – before you rush to the doctor's office for some statins (statins are cholesterol lowering drugs). However, if you have too much cholesterol in your blood system, high cholesterol can be a serious problem for your health and you should visit your doctor immediately!
What are the possible complications of high cholesterol?
High levels of cholesterol in the blood stream greatly damage the coronary and other arteries and therefore represent a major risk factor for development of cardiovascular disease and coronary conditions (angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, stroke, arterial disease of legs) while high blood sugar levels may indicate diabetes.
If we have too much cholesterol in the blood the excess of the cholesterol accumulates in the walls of the arteries. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your coronary arteries which leads to a condition called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
The process of narrowing of the arteries can occur anywhere in the body, in most cases, in the heart vessels, known as coronary arteries. Deposits in the coronary arteries obstruct the flow of blood that supplies the heart with oxygen and nutrients. This can cause pain in the heart, which is called angina pectoris. Some cholesterol-rich lining of the thin membrane, that separates the lumen lining blood vessels tend to rupture it. Such coverings are called unstable plaque.
On-site burst lining forms blood clot, which can block the blood vessel, and thereby interrupt the flow of blood through the affected artery. This is followed by the death of the area of heart muscle cluster that was fed by that artery. Thus, a medical condition is called a heart attack. However, if a clot only narrows a vascular lumen, the blood still supplies the sectoral part of the heart muscle with nutrients, but it is often not enough, therefore causing chest pain – angina pectoris.