Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Health
It is a known fact that excessive cholesterol in the body has a detrimental effect on the cardiovascular health. But how is it related to the heart and blood vessels? Let’s find out.
What is normal cholesterol cycle in the body?
Up to 80% of the cholesterol is usually synthesized within the body in the liver and intestines. Cholesterols are also taken up in diet. Excessive cholesterol is excreted by the liver into the bile where bile acids break down the cholesterols into constituent products, which are then eliminated from the body via stools.
What happens when there is too much cholesterol in the body?
When the cholesterol intake exceeds its consumption in the body, the excessive cholesterol starts piling up. Excessive cholesterol mainly gets deposited in the liver and the fat cells called adipocytes. Too much cholesterol also gets deposited in the walls of blood vessels in the form of plaques.
How do cholesterols cause cardiovascular diseases?
Plaque formation hardens the walls of the arteries and compromises the pliability of these blood vessels. The plaques also cause narrowing of the lumen of the blood vessels. The hard and narrowed arteries cause an increase in the blood pressure in the same way as a garden hose delivers high pressure of water when its diameter decreases.
The narrowing of blood vessels of the heart (the coronary arteries) compromises the blood supply to the heart cells. When the heart muscles don’t get enough blood, their function is compromised, leading to angina pain. When these narrowed and hard blood vessels in the heart are completely blocked by the cholesterol plaques, the heart cells start dying as their blood supply is cut off. The result is severe chest pain in the form of a heart attack.
Similarly, narrowing of the blood vessels carrying blood to the brain cells (the carotid blood vessels), compromises the blood supply to the brain. When the blood supply to a part of the brain is completely blocked due to cholesterol deposits, the brain cells function is compromised in the form of a stroke.