Living with High Cholesterol
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that can be found in every cell of the body, of which it is an essential component. It also plays an important role in body functions such as hormone production and digestion. Cholesterol is produced by the liver, and its production is sufficient to cover the body needs. Still, there is another source of cholesterol: animal-based foods like milk, eggs, and meat. To avoid excess cholesterol, experts recommend eating as little dietary cholesterol as possible as part of a healthy diet.1,2
I heard that there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Is that true?Yes and no… In fact, cholesterol is just cholesterol, but it travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins”, of which there are two types:
- low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. The LDL cholesterol is sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, and it makes up for most of the body’s cholesterol.
- high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. The HDL cholesterol is called “good” cholesterol, for it “absorbs” cholesterol, which is brought back to the liver, processed, end eliminated.3
What are the signs of excess cholesterol? Is it a serious condition?Excess cholesterol in blood, called HYPERCHOLESTEROLEMIA, usually has no signs or symptoms, hence the importance of a regular check. Especially when considering that, yes, hypercholesterolemia can have serious consequences.4
If HDL cholesterol contributes to the elimination of excess cholesterol, on the opposite, LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your blood vessels, creating deposits called “ATHEROMATOUS PLAQUE” (or ATHEROMA). As plaque gets thicker, the inside of the arteries becomes narrower, a process called atherosclerosis. As plaque develops, it impairs the blood flow and can trigger heart disease. Ultimately, when blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause chest pain (called angina), a heart attack (myocardial infarction) and even a heart failure.3,5,6