Atherosclerosis Cutting Your Risk For Heart Attacks And Strokes
When we make changes in our lifestyle to lower our fat intake and cholesterol level, we are helping more than just our heart. All of our body’s organs depend on a robust supply of blood in order to function properly. If that supply is reduced or interrupted it can lead to many problems, in particular, heart attack and strokes.
One of the most common causes of both heart attacks and strokes is atherosclerosis, which is a gradual buildup of fatty substances (also called plaque) in blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is sometimes called narrowing or hardening of the arteries. If an artery supplying the brain or heart becomes severely narrowed or if a clot becomes lodged in a narrowed artery, a stroke or heart attack could occur.
Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease, which means it cannot be cured or reversed. So your best medicine is prevention. Of course, eating a healthy diet low in fats is a good way to lower your risk, but that is not the whole story.
Fats in the blood, also called cholesterol or lipids, come in several varieties.
1. LDLs are mostly fat and tend to break down as they move through the blood. They leave behind deposits of cholesterol, which build up in the arteries.
2. HDLs help transport cholesterol from the body’s cells to the liver where it is broken down. HDLs also may keep LDLs from entering cells.
Stopping smoking, increasing exercise, balancing your diet and weight loss can all help increase the number of HDLs and decrease the LDLs in your blood. Sometimes, though, medication can be used to help you achieve your target levels.
Your doctor can consult with you on designing a plan to help you battle atherosclerosis. The sooner you start, the more your body will benefit — think of it as your cardiovascular pension plan.
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