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What is normal cholesterol

There are a lot of myths surrounding normal cholesterol, but it’s worth taking a look at what normal cholesterol is. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is produced by the liver and its job is to: produce bile acids to help with the digestion of fat, build and repair cells, and produce estrogens and testosterone hormones. So while normal cholesterol is an important function of the body, too much normal cholesterol in the body becomes a risk as it can clog up arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes.

When levels of normal cholesterol and the other blood bloodstream fat triglycerides, become too high, the likelihood increases that you’ll develop cholesterol-containing fatty deposits, known as plaques, in your blood vessels. With time, plaques build up to narrow your arteries, hindering blood flow and leading to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. When arteries around the heart are narrowed(coronary artery disease) the heart is unable to get the oxygen-rich blood it requires. This increases the chance you’ll have a heart attack. And decreased blood flow to the brain leads to a stroke. So it is important to maintain normal cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes

Heart disease claims about 500,000 lives in America each year and high cholesterol levels play a significant role in this major disease. Studies show that with high cholesterol levels, the risk of heart disease is increased by up to 40 per cent. A person’s lifestyle, including inactivity, obesity and eating a high-fat diet, can contribute to high levels of cholesterol levels. The following factors increase the likelihood that high cholesterol levels will lead to atherosclerosis: smoking, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and a family history of atherosclerosis.

Not surprisingly, high blood pressure and high cholesterol go together. Consequently, untreated or not well managed high cholesterol levels increase your heart attack and stroke risks according to a study completed by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. “This points out both a serious problem and a significant opportunity to prevent disease of the heart and blood vessels,” says Stephen Turner, MD, the Mayo Clinic hypertension specialist who was in charge of the study. Of the around 50 million US adults having hypertension, researchers found that more than two-thirds of them also have high cholesterol.

Only about one-third of the study subjects with both risk factors were taking high cholesterol-lowering medications (primarily statins). and fewer than 50 per cent of those had achieved the recommended lipid levels. It is therefore important for people with hypertension to have their cholesterol checked. According to Dr Turner, “Having both doesn’t just add to your risk of cardiovascular disease – it multiplies the risk”.

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