You may have heard health experts use the term “cholesterol” in relation to your cardiovascular health. But what exactly is cholesterol? It is a fat-like substance found in your blood.
Your body requires some cholesterol to function properly. But if you accrue too much of it or see an imbalance in the good and bad types of cholesterol, you could see some medical problems, including in your heart.
Your general physician can monitor your cholesterol levels during routine blood tests. So follow your doctor’s advice to ensure you maintain good cardiovascular health and do not skip regular testing. Read on to learn more about cholesterol and how it can impact the function of your heart and blood vessels.
What Does Cholesterol Do to Your Cardiovascular System?
When you have imbalanced or too much cholesterol, your system becomes overwhelmed. The fatty substance will start to build up within the blood vessels as plaque. This narrowing of the arteries begins to restrict blood flow, forcing the heart to work harder, increasing heart rate and blood pressure.
The excess strain on the heart and the blood vessels will increase your risk for several types of complications. You could experience angina, pain in the chest caused by too little blood flow to the heart.
As plaque accumulates, it could form a blockage in the artery. Restricted or blocked blood flow to other organs can lead to a stroke, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or another emergency. Call 911 if you experience symptoms related to any of these conditions.
Cholesterol problems can lead to chronic issues like heart or vascular disease. Both high cholesterol and high blood pressure will damage the blood vessels over time, so you should not ignore these issues. This damage can create inflammation that may impact other areas of your body as well, so it is important that you manage these symptoms.
How Can I Manage My Cholesterol?
You understand that cholesterol can have a major influence on your health, especially within your cardiovascular system. You will need assistance from your doctor to manage high or imbalanced cholesterol properly.
Cholesterol problems will not come with noticeable symptoms themselves. This is why monitoring from your doctor through blood tests is so important. They can spot any issues and offer treatment accordingly.
You can manage high cholesterol through lifestyle changes in many mild cases. You might ingest too much cholesterol from saturated fats in animal products or trans fats in processed foods. Reduce these types of foods in your diet to keep your heart healthy.
Regular exercise will improve your blood flow and can therefore stop cholesterol from building up. But not all patients can engage in physical activity, so talk to your doctor about ways to stay healthy.
Your doctor might also prescribe medicine to manage cholesterol levels. Find the optimal preventative care for your unique medical needs by scheduling an appointment with your cardiovascular specialist today.