The Basics of Cholesterol
Have you been diagnosed with high cholesterol? Is lowering your cholesterol a goal? The first step is to find out: What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and other cells and found in certain foods, such as food from animals, like dairy products, eggs, and meat.
The body needs some cholesterol in order to function properly. Its cell walls, or membranes, need cholesterol in order to produce hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help to digest fat. But the body needs only a limited amount of cholesterol to meet its needs. When too much is present health problems such as heart disease may develop.
Cholesterol and Heart Disease
When too much cholesterol is present, plaque (a thick, hard deposit) may form in the body's arteries narrowing the space for blood to flow to the heart. Over time, this buildup causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which can lead to heart disease.
When not enough oxygen-carrying blood reaches the heart chest pain -- called angina -- can result. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by total blockage of a coronary artery, the result is a heart attack. This is usually due to a sudden closure from a blood clot forming on top of a previous narrowing.