For years, the medical community has held that a high level of cholesterol causes heart disease. While few will dispute this belief, there are other factors that may lead to severe and even fatal heart conditions.
Conducted by medical experts, the Framingham Heart Study determined that high blood cholesterol is a contributing factor of CHD, or coronary heart disease. These study results showed that people with higher levels of cholesterol were more likely to develop coronary heart disease. On the other hand, it is unusual for people with low cholesterol to suffer from CHD.
This connection between high blood cholesterol and heart disease was also confirmed by another group of experts, whose studies showed that lowering the total LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) level could actually reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. A recent series of cholesterol trials using statin drugs suggested that lowering both total and LDL cholesterol levels could greatly reduce the chance of experiencing heart attack, angioplasty (a surgical bypass) or death due to a coronary heart disease-related cause.
In addition to high cholesterol levels, there are other risk factors that can increase the risk of developing heart disease. Even though some risk factors can be lowered with diet, medication or lifestyle changes, others cannot be altered. The more combined risk factors you have, the higher your chance will be of experiencing heart disease.
The greatest unchangeable risk factors are as follows:
* Your age. The greatest risks are faced by women over 55 and men over 45
* Family medical history. If you have parents or a sibling who died from heart disease at the ages stated above, you face a higher risk
Fortunately, some risk factors can be changed:
* Cholesterol. Limit your high total cholesterol and your high LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Lower your levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol
* Reduce your blood pressure
* Stop smoking
* Diabetes (diabetics face a higher risk of developing heart disease)
* Little or no physical activity
* Lose excess weight
If you have one or more of these high-risk factors, see your physician to find out how you can take action and reduce your chances of suffering a heart attack.
Some experts believe that high blood cholesterol and heart disease are indeed connected. On the other hand, there are those who hold that too much animal fat resulting in high cholesterol is the contributing factor to heart disease. These experts argue that there may or may not be “good” and “bad” cholesterols. They also believe that factors such as physical activity, mental stress and a change in body weight may influence the levels of the blood cholesterol, and that high blood cholesterol is a simply reflection of an unhealthy lifestyle, but not dangerous.
Experts may disagree on the factors of cholesterol and heart disease. The one thing everyone agrees on, however, is that we all need to reduce the risks and increase our quality of life.