You may often hear about heart attacks, but do you know the cause of the disease? The disease occurs when blood vessels (arteries) become narrow due to blockage of fat and cholesterol plaques resulting in disrupted blood flow and can not flow to the heart. The heart muscle will lack oxygen and cause “ischemia”. If the blood vessel blockage is at a severe level (> 75%) the oxygen supply will stop. The heart muscle involved will die. This can lead to a severe heart attack and can lead to death. This condition is known as Atherosclerosis which causes Coronary Artery Disease. This condition often occurs but is not noticed by many people; despite having claimed many lives. Atherosclerosis is actually the leading cause of disease and the number one killer in the world. In Malaysia, more people die from atherosclerosis than from cancer. In Malaysia, about 9% or 4000 of the 50 000 patients treated in government hospitals died of atherosclerosis in 2004 compared to 7% of cancer deaths. Blood flows through blood vessels (arteries) to important organs such as the heart and brain. Cholesterol plaques in the arteries will narrow the lumen and interfere with blood flow. There are times when these blockages can rupture and cause the formation of blood clots. If this happens to the heart, it will disrupt blood flow and cause a heart attack.
Organs that do not receive adequate blood supply will be damaged. If this condition occurs in the brain, it will cause a stroke. If it occurs in the peripherals, then it will cause “Peripheral Artery Disease” and result in organ damage or failure. Many patients, especially those at high risk, are unaware of the presence of atherosclerosis because there are no specific early signs that can be affected. Cholesterol screening is therefore important for early intervention. Unfortunately, many people do not know that death from atherosclerosis is preventable. Atherosclerosis causes 50% of patient deaths due to heart attack. If they survive, 2/3 will be discharged from the hospital with a high morbidity rate and another 1/3 could suffer from limb paralysis due to stroke.
WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance (referred to as a lipid) that is essential for the body to function properly. Cholesterol is usually produced in the liver, but it can be found in a variety of animal -derived foods such as meat and milk. Cholesterol is needed by the body to form healthy cells, produce hormones and vitamin D. However, it can affect your health if you have too high cholesterol levels.
TYPES OF CHOLESTEROL
Cholesterol is transported into the body by a type of molecule known as lipoprotein. Most cholesterol is transported by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
- Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
LDL serves to carry cholesterol throughout the body through the arteries. LDL has a tendency to stick to the walls of arteries causing the formation of a thick and hard substance called cholesterol plaque. If it is excessive too, LDL will accumulate in the walls of arteries or clog the arteries as well as increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. LDL is known as `bad cholesterol`.
- High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
HDL works to return excess cholesterol in the blood to the liver, which will then process the cholesterol and remove it from the body. HDL also helps in preventing the formation of cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels. Therefore, HDL is known as `good cholesterol`.
Triglycerides are a form of fat made in the body. High triglycerides can be caused by obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity and alcohol intake. Those with high triglyceride levels usually have high total cholesterol levels including high LDL levels and low HDL levels.
Below are normal cholesterol levels consisting of LDL, HDL, triglycerides, as well as total cholesterol, which can be known from a blood test:
LDL: less than 100 mg/dL.
HDL: 60 mg/dL or more
Triglyceride: less than 150 mg/dL.
Total: less than 200 mg/dL.
Cholesterol reading in mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter)
Good – 170 and below
Mid – 170 to 199
Height – 200 and above
Most importantly, the higher the HDL cholesterol level, the better for the body. On the other hand the higher the level of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and total cholesterol, the worse for health. High cholesterol is a combination of high total cholesterol and LDL values as well as low HDL.
SIGNS OF HIGH CHOLESTEROL IN THE BODY
Signs of high cholesterol are indeed difficult to identify through symptoms. Among the signs that can indicate high cholesterol in the body are:
- There are lumps on the eyelids that do not hurt
- Lumps on the fingers or arms
- High blood pressure
- It’s easy to get tired
- Leg pain especially the calf
- Foamy urine
- Oil layer when defecating
However, cholesterol levels can be identified more accurately through blood tests. There are several important elements that doctors will study to achieve high cholesterol level results.
WAYS TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL
- Choose fiber foods that are easily soluble in water
Fiber is one of the important foods that help a lot in the digestive system of food in our stomach and intestines. Examples of foods that contain water-soluble fiber are fiber found in oats, barley, nuts, fruits and vegetables. This type of water -soluble fiber can absorb water and absorb cholesterol up to the intestinal tract. This can help our intestines to absorb more nutrients than the food we have eaten.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3s
Foods rich in omega-3 can lower blood pressure and increase the body’s antibodies. In fact, it can prevent Alzheimer’s disease by improving the brain’s ability to remember longer and faster. Among the examples, the foods that are most rich in omega-3s are salmon, anchovies, mackerel or salmon
- Avoid trans fats
Almost all foods contain trans fats in relatively high quantities and should be avoided for use as a daily food. Usually this trans fat is easy to find in dairy products such as milk and meat products. Examples of foods that contain trans fat are donuts, pizza, biscuits, margarine, cakes, popcorn and fries.
- Cut down on foods that contain saturated fats
Saturated fats are a type that are difficult to break down by our body’s hormones and take quite a long time to be processed out of the body. Even if we refer to the WHO, over 14.1 million people suffer from heart problems and strokes as a result of blood vessel problems that start to clog. Bad cholesterol i.e. LDL is easily increased when uncontrolled food care especially foods that have a lot of saturated fat foods. Examples are cream, cheese, lamb, beef.
Exercise can not only keep the body healthy but also help fight obesity and reduce the risk of LDL. By way of exercise also it can increase good cholesterol (HDL). In a 12 -week study that collected money exercise activities involving aerobic exercise could lower cholesterol levels in 20 women with obesity problems. They exercise 3 times a week for 15 minutes. This exercise involves walking, star jumping and Korean -style light exercise. Walking is already considered an exercise. You just have to walk for 30 minutes a day is enough to avoid the risk of heart problems. When the heart is in a healthy state can increase blood flow to the whole body and make the heart stronger. This can definitely reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
- Can break down excess cholesterol plaques in and out of blood vessels
- Smoothens blood flow
- Get rid of body gas in the body
- Give energy
- Increases metabolism
- Improve physical performance
- Breaks down excess fat in the body
- Lighten the body
- Strengthens joints and bones