Cholesterol Health Issues

How Cholesterol affects Your Heart's Health?

Cholesterol is a complex fatty organic alcohol that basically is used for three purposes in the human body. It not only maintains the fluidity and integrity of cell membranes, but it also helps in securing important proteins in cell membranes. It also helps maintain hormonal balance in the body.

Most of the cholesterol in the human body is synthesized in the liver and in some other cells of the body. From the liver and the small intestine, it needs to be transported to tissues all over the body for which blood forms the medium. Now unfortunately, cholesterol is largely insoluble in blood. Therefore, lipoprotein, which is soluble in blood is used to envelop the cholesterol from its place of creation and used to easily transport it via blood to and from the tissues all over the human body.

Two types of lipoproteins are used for this. One, the low density lipoprotein (LDL), transports the cholesterol from the liver to the tissues using the blood coursing through the circulatory system as the medium. The other, the high-density lipoprotein (HDL), carries back the unused cholesterol in the tissues through the bloodstream back to the liver for disintegration, prior to its excretion from the body.

The human body normally has an optimum balance between the LDL and HDL lipoprotein varieties. When this balance is skewed in favor of LDL, what happens is that the extra cholesterol left over in the tissues cannot be transported back to the liver through the bloodstream because of the lack of sufficient amount of HDL molecular envelopes.

The balance can be skewed if the quantity of LDL becomes more than is optimum or if the quantity of HDL becomes less than optimum. The fatty food that you eat can also result in increase of LDL in the body.

All (or any) of this results in a huge quantity of surfeit cholesterol being dumped in the bloodstream, where it is slowly absorbed by the inner walls of arteries and other blood vessels. The white blood corpuscles in the blood consider the insoluble cholesterol in the blood as a foreign body. Therefore, they attack the cholesterol which is in the meantime seeping into the inner walls of arteries.

This attack by the white blood corpuscles on the cholesterol seeping into the inner walls of arteries causes two things to happen. One is that it causes inflammation in these inner walls. The other is that the cholesterol forms a hard plaque over the inner walls. This detracts from the normal flexibility of the walls. In the normal human body, the blood circulation works efficiently by alternate expansion and contraction of the walls of the blood vessels.

With plaque formation and inflammation of the walls of arteries, the efficiency of circulation of blood becomes reduced. Moreover, the plaque formation is attacked with renewed vigor by more white blood corpuscles. This causes more inflammation and more plaque formation. Another result is atherosclerosis of the arteries, because their inner diameter becomes reduced by deposition of cholesterol.

This causes the heart to work under more stress. Extreme plaque formation can cause bursting of the lining of an artery, because of disintegration of the plaque formed inside it. This leads to blood clot formation. These blood clots are transported throughout the blood vessels. They cause damage to different organs of the body.

The result of all this harmful activity is that less blood reaches the heart tissue. It is because of this that a heart attack can occur. A stroke can occur if the blood clots hamper blood circulation to the brain.