What Is High Blood Cholesterol?
High blood cholesterol, known as hypercholesterolemia in medical parlance, refers to an increase in the cholesterol in blood above the normal level. It is mainly a digestive problem resulting from consumption of rich foods. It is a major factor in coronary artery disease. A person with high blood cholesterol is regarded as a potential candidate for heart attack, a stroke or high blood pressure.
Cholesterol is a yellow fatty substance and a principal ingredient in the digestive juice bile, in the fatty sheaths that Insulate nerves and in sex hormones, namely estrogen, and androgen. It performs several functions such as transportation of fat, providing defense mechanism, protecting red blood cells and muscular membrane of the body.
Most of the cholesterol found in the body is produced in the liver. However, about 20 to 30 per cent generally comes from the foods we eat. Some cholesterol is also secreted into the intestinal tract in bile and becomes mixed with the dietary cholesterol. The percentage of ingested cholesterol absorbed seems to average 40 to 50 percent of the intake.
The amount of cholesterol is measured in milligrams per 100 ml. of blood. The normal level of cholesterol varies between 150-250 mg. per 100 ml. Persons with atherosclerosis have uniformly high blood cholesterol, usually above 250 mg. per 100 ml. In blood, cholesterol is bound to certain proteins-lipo proteins which have an affinity for blood fats, known as lipids. There are two main types of lipoproteins, a low-density one (LDL) and a high-density one (HDL). The low-density lipoprotein is the one which is considered harmful and is associated with cholesterol deposits in a blood vessel the higher the ratio of LDL to the total cholesterol the greater will be the risk of arterial damage and heart disease. The HDL, on the other hand, plays a salutary role in helping remove cholesterol from circulation and thereby reduce the risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol has been the subject of extensive study by researchers since 1769, when French Chemist, Poluteir de La Salle purified the soapy-looking yellowish substance. The results of the most comprehensive research study, commissioned by the National Heart and Lung Institute of the U.S.A. were announced in 1985. The 10-year study, considered most elaborate and most expensive research project in medical history, indicates that heart disease is directly linked to the level of cholesterol in the blood and that lowering cholesterol in the blood significantly reduces the incidence of heart attacks. It has been estimated that for every one per cent reduction in cholesterol, there is a decrease in the risk of heart attack by two per cent.
Causes: High blood cholesterol or increase in cholesterol is mainly a digestive problem caused by the consumption of rich foods such as fried foods, excessive intake of milk and its products like ghee, butter and cream, white flour, sugar, cakes, pastries biscuits, cheese, ice-cream as well as non-vegetarian foods like meat, fish and eggs. Other causes of increase in cholesterol are an irregularity in habits, smoking and drinking alcohol.
Stress has been found to be a major cause of increased level of cholesterol. Adrenaline and cortisone are both released in the body under stress. This, in turn, produces a fat metabolizing reaction. Adrenal glands of executive-type aggressive persons produce more adrenaline than the easy going men. Consequently, they suffer six to eight times more heart attacks than the relaxed men.
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