Health Info  Health Stories  Blood Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is present in your bloodstream and throughout your body's cellular structure. Dietary cholesterol only contributes 20-30% of the cholesterol in the body. Majority of the cholesterol found in the body is made by our own liver. For healthy individuals, there is a self-regulatory mechanism in our body to help control the level of cholesterol.

 

Cholesterol does not dissolve in your bloodstream. The commonly known blood cholesterol in the body is a lipoprotein, which carries lipids from liver to cells and vice versa. The so called “bad” cholesterol and “good’ cholesterol in blood are the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), respectively. Generally speaking, individuals with higher level of “bad” cholesterol (i.e. LDL) and/or lower level of “good” cholesterol (i.e. HDL) will have higher risk of heart diseases. LDL is the main source of artery-clogging plaque. HDL actually works to clear cholesterol from the blood.

 

When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries, causing a process called atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease. The arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if enough blood and oxygen cannot reach your heart, you may suffer chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack. What is a healthy level of cholesterol in your bloodstream? As a guideline, your total blood cholesterol level should be less than 200 mg/dL. At this level, you are considered low risk for a heart attack or other heart related problems. Levels between 200 mg/dL to 239 mg/dL mean that you are at an elevated risk for a heart attack, also known as borderline high risk. Blood cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or over should be cause for concern, because at these levels your risk of a heart attack are high. Talk to your doctor to obtain an accurate blood cholesterol reading.

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