Cholesterol is an oil-based, fatty substance that is carried around the body in the blood. It is needed to build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones.
Your liver produces most of the cholesterol needed for your body. The rest comes from foods including animal meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Excess intake of these foods can cause your liver to make more cholesterol than it otherwise would.
Too much cholesterol can be dangerous. Over time, it builds up in the inner walls of the arteries and make them narrow and less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a major cause of coronary heart disease worldwide. It can lead to blockage of arteries that supply blood to the heart, resulting in chest pain. Complete blockage by a clot formation on top of a narrowed artery can result in a heart attack.
High cholesterol does not have any symptoms. Over decades, it can lead to build up of fatty plaques in the arteries, which also does not have signs or symptoms. If these plaques rupture, they can cause heart attack or stroke in otherwise asymptomatic people.
Over the years, as the plaque build up continues, significant blockage of the artery (70 percent or more) can develop. This may cause the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Pain in the arms or jaw
- Shortness of breath
The American Heart Association recommends all adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol checked every four to six years.
Dr. Shehzad Sami, a board certified cardiologist, can check your cholesterol level by taking a sample of blood. The blood sample is be sent to a lab for testing. The test will show your total cholesterol level. Your total cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol are among numerous factors (age, family history, smoking and high blood pressure) Dr. Sami can use to predict your lifetime or 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke.
High density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol) is called the ëgood cholesterolí because it helps to keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries. Low density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) is called the ëbad cholesterolí because it is the main source of cholesterol build-up and blockage in the arteries.
High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for heart attack and stroke. If you have other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes, this risk increases even more. The more risk factors you have and the more severe they are, the more your overall risk rises. Once you know your risk, you can take action to lower it.
Dr. Sami may recommend eating a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco smoke and losing weight (if youíre overweight or obese).
If lifestyle changes donít reduce your cholesterol levels enough, Dr. Sami may also prescribe cholesterol lowering medications.
Contact Us Today:
If ANY of above risk factors apply to you or a loved one, make an appointment for an evaluation and screening with Dr. Sami. Remember, only blood test can diagnose high cholesterol. And the good news is that cholesterol can be lowered, which significantly reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Our main office is located at 6051 Garth Road, Suite 300, Baytown, TX 77521. Or you may contact us at 281-839-7949 to set up an appointment.