Many people are totally unaware that they are living with a cholesterol problem. A natural substance, cholesterol is created in the liver and also is found in certain foods.1 An excess of it can be significant for the heart and arteries because it can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.1 It is a silent threat that does not provoke any particular symptoms or altered feelings. As it builds up painlessly in your arteries, your risk of developing a significant coronary heart disease (CAD) increases.2
1 – What is the difference between LDL-C (bad cholesterol) and HDL-C (good cholesterol)?
Low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is known as “bad” cholesterol. High levels of LDL-C can build up in the arteries and cause atherosclerosis. The causal relationship between LDL-C and the risk of heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes, is well established.
High density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is known as “good” cholesterol. HDL-C (good cholesterol) helps transport LDL-C to the liver where it is removed from the body.1
2 – What are the risk factors associated with high cholesterol and heart disease?
Risk factors for developing heart disease include smoking, obesity, hypertension and diabetes, as well as age, sex, family history and diet.7,8
In particular, diabetes and high blood pressure contribute to the severity of high cholesterol.9,10 Diabetes tends to lower good cholesterol and increase bad cholesterol, while high blood pressure can cause cholesterol to build up in the arteries.9,10
3 – Can cholesterol be hereditary?
People with familial hypercholesterolemia (HF) have very high cholesterol levels caused by an inherited disease.6 High levels of low-density lipoprotein in the blood are present from birth and can lead to the early development of coronary artery disease (CAD) or thickening of the arteries.11 The disease is hereditary according to an autosomal dominant pattern; brothers and sisters and children of an individual with FH have a 50% chance of inheriting the predisposing mutation.6
4 – Why is it important to know and understand your cholesterol?
High cholesterol, particularly high LDL cholesterol, is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes, the leading cause of death in the United States.1,3 Patients should work with their doctor to lower their high cholesterol levels to an optimal range. A doctor may prescribe medications in addition to lifestyle changes, but even with this, patients may still be at risk and need to further reduce their cholesterol levels.
5 – What about cholesterol levels in children?
It is also necessary to measure the cholesterol levels of a child, especially when we suspect a FH.6
6 – Do diet and lifestyle impact the level of bad cholesterol on our health?
A healthy diet can help lower blood cholesterol levels. People should maintain a healthy weight because being overweight or obese can increase your bad cholesterol levels, while weight loss can help lower your cholesterol levels. Physical activity can also help maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol.8
7 – Can the risks of cardiovascular disease be reduced?
WHO estimates that a 10% drop in cholesterol in a 40-year-old man would allow for a 50% reduction in cardiovascular disease over a 5-year horizon.12