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High Cholesterol And Heart Attack

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A Age And Other Factors You Cant Change

Cholesterol and Heart Disease | Heart Foundation

Age alone doesnt cause coronary artery disease, but the older you get and the longer youve been exposed to the effects of risks such as high blood pressure or an unhealthy lifestyle, the greater your overall risk, Martin says. In other words, damage adds up. Men older than age 45 and women past menopause have the highest risk of a heart event.

A family history of heart disease is a risk factor that you cant directly control but that you should be aware of. Its especially important to check with your doctor for an assessment if you have a father or brother who had heart disease before age 55, or a mother or sister who was diagnosed before age 65.

Treatments For Lp And Cac

Whereas there is no therapy currently on the market that has been FDA approved to lower Lp, several are in development. For now, doctors recommend treating overall cardiovascular risk in people with high Lp. Proven strategies to reduce cardiovascular risk in patients with high Lp or high coronary calcium include taking a cholesterol-lowering medication called a statin to reduce non-Lp cholesterol circulating in the blood and a combination of medication and lifestyle changes such as:

  • Achieve a healthy weight
  • Control blood pressure
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage diabetes
  • Eat a healthy diet

How Are High Cholesterol And Heart Disease Related

Having high cholesterol raises your risk of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to your body. Plaque is made of cholesterol and other substances. Over time, plaque can narrow or completely block the arteries including the ones that serve your heart.

We tend to think of the heart pumping blood to the rest of the body. But the heart itself also needs a healthy blood supply. The coronary arteries are a network of arteries that nourish the heart with blood. Coronary artery disease occurs when atherosclerosis causes these arteries to be narrowed or blocked.

Early on, coronary artery disease may not cause symptoms. But over time it can lead to:

  • Chest pain or trouble breathing when youre physically active or even when youre not active.

  • Heart attack, or myocardial infarction, which is when one or more of the coronary arteries is suddenly blocked, leading to death of the heart muscle.

  • Heart failure, which is when your heart doesnt pump blood normally or pump enough to meet your bodys needs.

  • Irregular heart rhythm, which can cause a fluttering sensation in your chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, or lightheadedness.

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What Is High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a condition in which you have too many lipids in your blood. Its also called hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia.

Your body needs just the right amount of lipids to function. If you have too many lipids, your body cant use them all. The extra lipids start to build up in your arteries. They combine with other substances in your blood to form plaque .

This plaque might not cause any problems for years, but over time, the plaque silently gets bigger and bigger within your arteries. This is why untreated high cholesterol is dangerous. Those extra lipids in your blood help make the plaque bigger without you even knowing it. The only way to know you have high cholesterol is through a blood test.

A blood test, called a lipid panel, tells you how many lipids are circulating in your blood. What is considered high cholesterol depends on your age, sex and history of heart disease.

Good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol

There are several types of lipids. The main ones youve probably heard about are good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.

Good cholesterol is called high-density lipoprotein . Think of the H as meaning helpful. Your HDLs carry cholesterol to your liver. Your liver keeps your cholesterol levels balanced. It makes enough cholesterol to support your bodys needs and gets rid of the rest. You must have enough HDLs to carry cholesterol to your liver. If your HDLs are too low, youll have too much cholesterol circulating in your blood.

Know The Warning Signs Of Heart Attack

Blood Clot Cholesterol Plaque I Heart Attack Stock Vector ...

Chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack. Call 911 if you feel any of the following:

  • Pain, pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both of your arms, your back, your neck, your jaw, or your stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness

Dont ignore any of these signs of a heart attack. Quick action could save your life.

Also Check: What Controls The Heart Rate

Zeroing In On Key Factors For Heart Disease

There’s no doubt about it, inflammation is a key contributor to heart disease. A major study done at Harvard found that people with high levels of a marker called C-reactive protein had higher risks of heart disease than people with high cholesterol. Normal cholesterol levels were NOT protective to those with high CRP. The risks were greatest for those with high levels of both CRP and cholesterol.

Another predisposing factor to heart disease is insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, which leads to an imbalance in the blood sugar and high levels of insulin. This may affect as many as half of Americans over age 65. Many younger people also have this condition, which is sometimes called pre-diabetes.

Although modern medicine sometimes loses sight of the interconnectedness of all our bodily systems, blood sugar imbalances like these impact your cholesterol levels too. If you have any of these conditions, they will cause your good cholesterol to go down, while your triglycerides rise, which further increases inflammation and oxidative stress. All of these fluctuations contribute to blood thickening, clotting, and other malfunctions leading to cardiovascular disease.

What Are The Heart Disease Risk Factors That I Cannot Change

  • Age. Your risk of heart disease increases as you get older. Men age 45 and older and women age 55 and older have a greater risk.
  • Sex. Some risk factors may affect heart disease risk differently in women than in men. For example, estrogen provides women some protection against heart disease, but diabetes raises the risk of heart disease more in women than in men.
  • Race or ethnicity. Certain groups have higher risks than others. African Americans are more likely than whites to have heart disease, while Hispanic Americans are less likely to have it. Some Asian groups, such as East Asians, have lower rates, but South Asians have higher rates.
  • Family history. You have a greater risk if you have a close family member who had heart disease at an early age.

Also Check: How Do You Find Your Resting Heart Rate

Learn More About Chest Pain

If you have questions about chest pain or any other health concerns for you or your family, contact the expert team at Calvary Medical Clinic. Were happy to help you understand whats causing your chest pain, how to reduce your pain, and how to protect your heart. for an appointment, or request a consultation using the convenient online booking tool.

Ldl Cholesterol And Your Pulse

Preventing Heart Attack and Stroke: Controlling Your Cholesterol

A high cholesterol level is a major controllable risk factor for heart disease, a heart attack or stroke, reports the American Heart Association. When your LDL level gets too high plaque can build up along the blood vessel walls, which can cause the blood vessels to become hard and narrow. This can lead to a condition called coronary artery disease, or atherosclerosis. This hardening of the blood vessels can restrict blood flow to the heart and or brain. When less blood is able to get through the blood vessels, the heart must beat faster to deliver enough blood and oxygen. This can lead to a higher pulse and higher blood pressure. A fast pulse may or may not be accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness, trouble breathing, chest pain and weakness or fainting. Any of the above should be discussed with your physician.

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Recommended Reading: How Does Exercise Prevent Heart Disease

Abcs Of Knowing Your Heart Risk

Will you suffer a heart attack or stroke? Doctors can look at many known risk factors to estimate, with fairly good accuracy, your odds of a future heart event. The more risk factors you have, and the more severe they are, the higher your risk of heart disease.

People who have a low risk of coronary artery disease live an average of 10 years longer than those with a high risk. And the best news is that once you understand your risk, you can do a lot to lower it. We prefer preventing heart attacks in the first place, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S. And to do that, we want to identify and manage risks as early as possible.

Thats why its useful to understand these ABCs of risks to your heart:

What Are The Symptoms Of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol itself does not cause any symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are too high. Therefore, it is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are. Lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it.

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What Are Hdl Ldl And Vldl

HDL, LDL, and VLDL are lipoproteins. They are a combination of fat and protein. The lipids need to be attached to the proteins so they can move through the blood. Different types of lipoproteins have different purposes:

  • HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. It is sometimes called good cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.
  • LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. It is sometimes called bad cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
  • VLDL stands for very low-density lipoprotein. Some people also call VLDL a bad cholesterol because it too contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries. But VLDL and LDL are different VLDL mainly carries triglycerides and LDL mainly carries cholesterol.

Plaque Presents A Double Threat

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Plaque itself can pose a risk. A piece of plaque can break off and be carried by the bloodstream until it gets stuck. And plaque that narrows an artery may lead to a blood clot that sticks to the blood vessels inner wall.

In either case, the artery can be blocked, cutting off blood flow.

If the blocked artery supplies the heart or brain, a heart attack or stroke occurs. If an artery supplying oxygen to the extremities is blocked, gangrene, or tissue death, can result.

Read Also: How Heart Attacks Are Treated

Actions For This Page

  • Several risk factors can contribute to a persons risk of coronary heart disease . Usually, heart disease is caused by a combination of risk factors rather than a single risk factor.
  • You can reduce your risk of heart disease by quitting smoking, following a heart-healthy eating pattern, being physically active, managing your weight, cutting down on alcohol and looking after your mental health.
  • Your doctor may prescribe medicines to reduce your risk of heart disease, depending on your level of risk and other health conditions.

The Heart Of The Matter

It’s all in the spin. The spin of the statistics and numbers. And it’s easy to get confused. Let me try to clear things up.

When you look under the hood of the research data you find that the touted “36% reduction” means a reduction of the number of people getting heart attacks or death from 3 percent to 2 percent .

And these data also show that treatment only really works if you have heart disease already. In those who DON’T have documented heart disease, there is no benefit.

In those at high risk for heart disease, about 50 people would need to be treated for 5 years to reduce one cardiovascular event. Just to put that in perspective: If a drug works, it has a very low NTT . For example, if you have a urine infection and take an antibiotic, you will get nearly a 100 percent benefit. The number needed to treat is “1.” So if you have an NTT of 50, like statins do for preventing heart disease in 75 percent of the people who take them, it is basically a crap shoot.

Yet at a cost of over $28 billion a year, 75 percent of all statin prescriptions are for exactly this type of unproven primary prevention. Simply applying the science over 10 years would save over $200 billion. This is just one example of reimbursed but unproven care.We need not only to prevent disease but also prevent the wrong type of care.

The truth is much more complex. Cholesterol is only one factor of many and not even the most important that contribute to your risk of getting heart disease.

Read Also: Which Blood Vessels Carry Blood Away From The Heart

Develop Or Maintain Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Healthy lifestyle habits that you stick with can help you manage your diabetes and prevent heart disease.

  • Stay at or get to a healthy weight.
  • Get enough sleep.

Learn more about these tips to manage diabetes.

Learn about the Body Weight Planner, which may help you create a personal plan to reach your goal weight.

How Does High Cholesterol Contribute To Heart Disease In Women

UConn Health Minute: Cholesterol and Heart Health

Having a high level of cholesterol is known as hypercholesterolemia, or dyslipidemia.

People who have an LDL cholesterol level thats higher than normal and an HDL cholesterol level thats too low may be at a higher risk of heart disease.

If you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, it can accumulate inside the walls of blood vessels.

HDL cholesterol helps remove cholesterol from your bloodstream. But if HDL levels are too low, there wont be enough of it to help remove the buildup of LDL cholesterol from your blood vessels.

Over time, the buildup of LDL within your blood vessels can turn into a substance known as plaque. Plaque can narrow and harden your arteries and limit blood flow. This is called atherosclerosis and is considered one type of heart disease.

In general, higher cholesterol levels particularly LDL levels means you have a higher chance of having a heart attack or stroke during the course of your lifetime.

Women generally have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men, due to a female sex hormone known as estrogen.

According to the National Institutes of Health , research also suggests that cholesterol levels in women vary depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle, due to changes in estrogen levels.

As estrogen levels rise, HDL cholesterol also rises, peaking at the time of ovulation. On the other hand, LDL and total cholesterol levels decline as estrogen levels rise, reaching a low just before menstruation.

These include:

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What Medical Problems Affect My Cholesterol Levels

Medical problems and cholesterol have a two-way relationship. High cholesterol can cause medical problems like atherosclerosis. But some medical conditions can also put you at a higher risk of having high cholesterol. Here are some conditions that may affect your cholesterol levels.

Chronic kidney disease

People with chronic kidney disease face a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease. Thats because CKD causes plaque to build up more quickly in their arteries. People with early-stage CKD are more likely to die from heart disease than kidney disease.

CKD causes you to have more triglycerides in your blood. It also causes you to have more very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. VLDLs are particles that carry triglycerides. Meanwhile, CKD lowers your good cholesterol levels and prevents your HDLs from working as they should. CKD also changes the structure of your bad cholesterol particles so they cause more harm.

HIV

People with HIV are nearly twice as likely as people without HIV to have a heart attack or stroke. Researchers used to think this higher risk came from HIV medications . They believed those medications raised a persons cholesterol. But newer research shows the culprit is actually a persons immune system.

Even if your HIV is under control, your immune system may still be activated. This puts your body in a state of chronic inflammation. This inflammation triggers plaque buildup and atherosclerosis.

Thyroid disease

Lupus

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Treatment For Chest Pain

If you have chest pain related to plaque buildup, we recommend lifestyle changes that can protect your heart, such as:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight if youre overweight or obese
  • Becoming physically active
  • Keeping your blood sugar in check if it is elevated
  • Controlling your blood pressure if it is high

Lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

We also may prescribe certain medications for chest pain, such as anticoagulants that help prevent blood clots. And for some patients, procedures such as angioplasty or bypass surgery can restore blood flow and reduce chest pain.

Also Check: How Many People Die From Heart Disease Each Year

What Is A Healthy Cholesterol Level

Cholesterol is broken down into two types:

  • low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, which can build up and block arteries
  • high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or good cholesterol, which helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream

Your total cholesterol number is formed by adding your HDL and LDL numbers together and falls into one of three categories:

  • Healthy: Less than 200 milligrams/deciliter
  • Borderline high: 200239 mg/dL
  • High: 240 mg/dL and up

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