High Cholesterol – The Major Cause Of Heart Disease

Your body needs the help of cholesterol, a fat-like substance, to produce hormones and to build new cells. 

All the cholesterol that the body needs is made in the liver.  Cholesterol is also derived from animals.  Foods such as eggs, milk, and meat provide cholesterol to the body.  Cholesterol in higher proportion is one of the major causes of heart disease.

Sources Of Cholesterol

Liver naturally produces cholesterol.  Foods containing animal fats and transfats act as sources of cholesterol.    Diets rich in animal fats and transfats can bring the cholesterol in your bloodstream to potentially hazardous level.  A high cholesterol level jeopardizes the functioning of the heart.

Cholesterol – The Major Cause Of Heart Disease

Excessive cholesterol in the blood results in the building up of cholesterol in the walls of the arteries.  This is termed as atherosclerosis which is a form of heart disease.  Due to the thickening of the arterial walls, the arteries become narrowed.  As a result, the regular blood flow to the heart muscle gets blocked or slowed down.   Oxygen is carried to the heart by the blood.  If sufficient blood and oxygen does not make it to the heart, chest pain is felt.  Heart attack happens if the blood supply to a segment of the heart is totally cut off because of an obstruction.

Different Forms Of Cholesterol

Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL), known as “bad” cholesterol and High-density Lipoprotein (HDL), known as “good” cholesterol.  Cholesterol travels in the blood in these two forms.  These two cholesterols differ on the basis of their protein content and cholesterol levels.  Protein level is low and cholesterol level in high in LDLs; whereas protein level is high and cholesterol level is low in HDL’s. Blockage in the artery is mainly caused by LDL.  HDL helps in clearing cholesterol.

Symptoms Of High Cholesterol

High level of cholesterol in the blood by itself does not bring about any symptoms.  This makes it hard for people having high cholesterol become aware of it.  Therefore it is very important to know a person’s cholesterol numbers.  This helps to bring down the high level of cholesterol thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.  Lowering of cholesterol level is vital for people belonging to all age groups.

Lowering The Cholesterol

LDL Cholesterol can be brought down by exercising regularly, losing weight, and maintaining a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat.

Cholesterol Contributing Factors

Body weight, diet, exercise, gender, age, heredity, diabetes and causes that include underlying medical conditions contribute for one’s cholesterol levels.


It is recommended by many doctors that cholesterol should be screened every five years after 20 years of age.  If the cholesterol level is found to be elevated, frequent testing is recommended.

Health care practitioners recommend that cholesterol level be maintained below 200.

Cholesterol levels 200-239 belong to borderline high category.

Cholesterol levels 240 or more belong to high category.

Drugs to bring down the cholesterol level are found to be very effective when a diet low in cholesterol is maintained.


When lifestyle changes do not bring down the level of LDL cholesterol to desired levels, medications called statins are used.  Other medications include fibrates (Lopid), Zetia, Questran and ezetimibe, fibric acid derivatives, and bile acid resins.