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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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What are the risks of high cholesterol ?

What can happen when you have high cholesterol ?
Tue, 15 Dec 2009
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Cholesterol is actually produced by the liver and is a fat-like waxy substance. Although Cholesterol is often thought of as a "bad thing", and if too much is in the body it is, the truth is that cholesterol also has purposes important to your overall health and body function. Every cell within the body is formed to varying degrees from cholesterol. When the cholesterol level becomes elevated, it can be dangerous, however, at the appropriate level, it plays a vital role in many functions of the body. Cholesterol works to build and repair cells, produces hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, and produces bile acids proven to aid in the digestion of fat. If you have too much cholesterol in your body, the levels build-up in the blood and cause clogging, which in turn raises the risk for heart disease and/or stroke. Some cholesterol is produced in your body while eating saturated foods made from animal-based foods such as dairy meat, eggs, which are essential components in the elevation of cholesterol. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains do not contain cholesterol. More than 50% of all adult Americans have levels of cholesterol that are too high. If you think about that, what that means is that the potential for having a heart attack and/or stroke is just teetering on the edge for millions of people. As you will learn in this site, there are ways that cholesterol levels can be reduced. There is hope in that for every 1% you lower your cholesterol, your chance of having a heart attack and/or stroke is reduced by 2%. Not a bad ratio! The best approach for managing your cholesterol level is to have it checked by your physician every three to five years. If you have elevated cholesterol, there are several ways you can lower your cholesterol before trying medication. Symptoms of high cholesterol usually are rare. High cholesterol levels are generally identified from a blood test. The symptoms seen are actually from the end-result of high cholesterol for health issues such as coronary disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Let us break each of these down to look at the symptoms in depth. Coronary Disease The primary symptom associated with coronary heart disease is called Angina (chest pain). When a person experiences this, they describe a feeling of "pressure", "squeezing", or a general feeling of "someone sitting on their chest." These symptoms can spread to the jaw, neck, or arm regions of the body and although the primary symptom is the feeling of pressure in the chest region, some individuals experience that feeling of pressure in other areas and not the chest. In addition to the reported pressure, other symptoms can include nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, lightheadedness or dizziness, and heart palpitations. Angina can be directly correlated to coronary heart disease and should be taken seriously. However, there are other stressors such as over-exertion, high-level of emotion, or even after eating a huge meal to be considered. In these circumstances a short period of rest, five minutes or so, will reduce or eliminate the symptoms. Again, if you have any of these symptoms, it is better to be checked out by a physician than to assume everything is fine. Stroke There are four primary symptoms pertaining to a stroke although often times this is a sudden event with little or no warning. The sudden onset of numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding Sudden trouble with vision in one or both eyes Dizziness, loss of balance, lack of coordination Other symptoms can include: Nausea and/or vomiting Fever Fainting, convulsions, and even coma Peripheral Vascular Disease This is a disease consisting of the blood vessels. Arteries that carry blood to your extremities become narrow or clogged. The outcome is that the blood flow is slowed or stopped completely. The primary symptoms of this disease are: Numbness and/or tingling in the lower extremities A cold sensation in the lower extremities Open sores or ulcers on the lower extremities that do not heal normally
Disclaimer: These answers are for your information only and not intended to replace your relationship with your treating physician.
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