How Cholesterol Affects the Health

 Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Cholesterol is a type of lipid molecule that is essential to maintain the structural integrity of the cell membranes and retain cell viability in animals and human beings. This lipid molecule can be good and bad for the health. Cholesterol is critical for brain development, production of hormones and maintenance of the cell membranes. However, certain types of cholesterol do not dissolve in the bloodstream and that’s where the trouble starts.

When it is in its solid form, cholesterol can clog the veins or cause artery hardening. The fatty blockage could also affect the flow of blood to various organs. Fatty plaques cause strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. In today’s post, we are listing down all the alarming ways cholesterol affect your health:

How Cholesterol Affects the Arteries

The body is mostly made of water and fat. Unfortunately, fat and water do not mix at all. When LDL bad cholesterol solidifies into a lard-like compound. This compound makes its way into the arteries where it sticks to the lining of the blood vessels. This causes hardening of the arteries or narrowing of the artery passageway. On the other hand, HDL good cholesterol does the total opposite. It actually removes excess cholesterol in the blood vessels, neutralizing the harmful effects of LDL bad cholesterol.

How Cholesterol Affects the Heart

If the LDL bad cholesterol level is too high, it is absorbed into the arterial wall where it causes inflammation. The body will then release white blood cells in a futile attempt to eliminate the fatty particles. When this happens, the combination of fatty deposits and white blood cells form an even stiffer blockage. The blockage causes constriction of the blood vessels all over the body including the heart.

When the blood vessels become stiff or narrow, they are less responsive to triggers of contraction and constriction. And since the heart’s entire surface is covered by blood vessels, the heart tissues are affected. Once the fatty deposit lodges itself into the heart’s artery, it could rupture, causing a heart attack.

How Cholesterol Affects the Digestive System

High levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream could also affect the digestive system. It could cause an imbalance of bile, leading to gallstones. According to the National Digestive Disease Information, cholesterol deposits cause almost 80% of gallstones.

Fatty plaques could also build up in the kidneys and intestines causing kidney diseases and intestinal ischemic syndrome. Bad cholesterol could also gum up the digestive process causing stomach upset and bloody stools.

How Cholesterol Affects the Brain

The brain contains about 25% of the cholesterol found in the body. This compound is used to synthesize neurotransmitters and maintain proper transmission of electrochemical signals between nerve cells.

However, the brain does not draw cholesterol from the blood; it makes its own supply. When the excess fatty deposits make its way into the blood vessels, it causes a blockage. This blockage could affect the flow of blood into the brain. Worse, the blocked blood vessels could rupture, causing strokes and arterial pressure. As such, high cholesterol level in the body could cause of ischemic strokes.