Cholesterol, like fat, cannot move around bloodstream on its own because it does not mix with water. The bloodstream carries cholesterol in particles called lipoproteins that are like blood-borne cargo trucks delivering cholesterol to various body tissues to be used, stored or excreted. But too much of this circulating cholesterol can injure arteries, especially coronary ones that supply heart. This leads to accumulation of cholesterol-laden “plaque” in vessel linings, a condition called atherosclerosis.
When blood flow to heart is impeded, heart muscle becomes starved for oxygen, causing chest pain (angina). If a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery affected by atherosclerosis, a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or death can occur.
Are you at risk? Cardiovascular disease is still one of greatest health problem affecting western countries. According to American Heart Foundation, over 70 million Americans have cardiovascular disease (CVD). The national cost of is nearly $400 billion and every 45 seconds an American has a stoke.
Certain risk factors increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
High blood cholesterol
Insufficient physical activity
High blood pressure
Excessive alcohol intake
Many people have multiple risk factors for heart disease and level of risk increases with number of risk factors. By reducing these risk factors you can largely prevent onset of cardiovascular disease. On its own elevated blood cholesterol is not necessarily a problem, but coupled with one or more other risk factors for heart disease, it is often straw that breaks camel’s back.
It is, therefore, very important to know what your cholesterol levels are and to keep them at a healthy level before you have any problems.
High risk cholesterol If your total cholesterol level is 240 or more, it's definitely high. You have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, you should have your LDL and HDL cholesterol tested. Ask your doctor for advice. Close to 20 percent of U.S. population has high blood cholesterol levels.