EXCITING UPDATES TO OUR PATIENT PORTAL & EMR: Click here to read more

The Link Between Cholesterol and Heart Problems

The Link Between Cholesterol and Heart Problems

If you’re like most people, you probably know too much cholesterol is “bad” for your health — but do you know why? If not, it’s a good idea to learn how cholesterol levels affect your heart health and your overall health, too. 

As a leading cardiology practice in Arizona, Phoenix Heart is dedicated to providing patient-centered care tailored to each person’s unique health needs and goals. In this post, the team offers a brief overview of cholesterol and its link to heart health, along with offering a few simple suggestions to help you manage your cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol and cardiovascular health

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that’s produced by your liver. It plays a key role in forming cell membranes and synthesizing certain hormones, as well as vitamin D. A healthy liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs.

We also get cholesterol from the foods we eat. If we eat a lot of high-cholesterol foods, we can wind up with too much cholesterol in our blood. Because it’s sticky, cholesterol (specifically, LDL cholesterol) can “stick” to artery walls, forming plaques that narrow the arteries and stiffen them, making it a lot harder for blood to circulate.

When blood flow slows down, it can prevent your heart (and other organs) from getting the oxygen they need to work normally. Eventually, you can develop coronary artery disease, the leading cause of heart disease and death in the United States. 

Arteries that are partially clogged with cholesterol can cause chest pain, also called angina. When blood flow is completely blocked, you can have a heart attack.

Good vs. bad

You often hear cholesterol referred to as “good” and “bad.” “Bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein, is the type of cholesterol that’s mainly responsible for clogging your arteries. This “fluffy” substance adheres more readily to your vessel walls, causing sticky “plaques” that stiffen artery walls and decrease blood flow.

“Good” cholesterol is also called HDL, short for high-density lipoprotein. As the name implies, it's denser and less “fluffy” than LDL. The reason it’s called “good” is that it can help clear away deposits of LDL, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

The fact is, your body needs some of both types of cholesterol in order to function the way it’s supposed to. Problems arise when you have too much “bad” cholesterol or too little “good” cholesterol. 

Managing your cholesterol

Many people can successfully manage their cholesterol levels with lifestyle changes like:

When lifestyle changes aren’t enough to decrease “bad” cholesterol and increase “good” cholesterol, your doctor might recommend medications to help. 

Statins are one of the most common types of cholesterol-lowering drugs. These medicines are often prescribed to help reduce the risk of complications, like illness and death, in people with heart disease or who are at risk for heart disease.

High cholesterol doesn’t cause symptoms, and many people don’t know they have high cholesterol until they have a serious medical problem, like chest pain or a heart attack. The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is to have routine blood tests to monitor your cholesterol, especially as you get older.

Don’t leave your heart health to chance

Since high cholesterol doesn’t cause any symptoms on its own, it may be tempting to put off having your cholesterol levels measured. But by not having a blood test, you could be leaving yourself at significantly increased risk of heart attack and death.

Don’t put off your cholesterol screening. With locations in Glendale, Goodyear, Anthem, and Canyon City, Arizona, Phoenix Heart makes it easy to have your cholesterol screened regularly. To learn how our team can help you manage your cholesterol levels and improve your cardiovascular health, call or book an appointment online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Telltale Signs You're Having a Heart Attack

Heart attacks are a leading cause of disability and death for both women and men. Knowing what symptoms to look for is an important part of getting prompt medical care. Here are six signs you should know about.

7 Things That May Be Causing Your Vein Condition

Good circulation is essential to your health. If you’re one of the millions of people affected by damaged veins, you’re right to be concerned. Here are some of the most common factors that may contribute to your symptoms.

How to Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease

It’s American Heart Month, and that means it’s a great time to show your heart some love! These seven tips offer simple ways to improve your heart health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

How Nuclear Medicine Works

Nuclear medicine plays an important role in managing cardiovascular health for many patients with heart disease, yet how it works is still a mystery to lots of people. If nuclear testing is in your future, here’s what you should know.

The Dangers of Being Obese

Losing weight isn’t easy — but if you’re obese or even overweight, dropping those extra pounds is really important for your health. Find out why — and see how our team can help you lose that weight for good.