High levels of LDL cholesterol have a close connection to heart health, and when those levels increase, so do your cardiovascular risks.
It’s important to know what you’re up against.
As LDL-C levels rise, so do your risks for cardiovascular disease, which is typically related to a process called atherosclerosis—a dangerous condition that develops when bad cholesterol combines with other substances in the blood, and turns into plaques that build up in your arteries.
As plaque builds up inside the artery, it can make it difficult for blood to flow. A little like cars in traffic, it can continue to grow until it gradually blocks off the artery, or a piece can break off, causing a clot that may rapidly block the artery.
|Chest pains are often the first indication of something being wrong. When there’s reduced blood flow to your heart, it can cause a pressure-like or squeezing feeling in your chest called angina—which often acts as the alarm that sounds when there’s a serious underlying issue.|
|Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)|
|CHD is the most common form of heart disease, and the #1 cause of death in the United States. When plaque builds up inside a coronary artery—the heart’s blood supplier—it reduces and sometimes blocks oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart and can lead to angina or heart attack. Over time, CHD weakens the heart and, if left untreated, can lead to heart failure.|
|When your heart stops getting enough oxygen, it causes a heart attack. This can happen when the plaque that builds up from excess cholesterol breaks open and forms a clot in one of your arteries. Acting quickly can save your life, so if you feel any signs of chest pain, upper body discomfort or shortness of breath, seek medical help immediately.|
|Similar to a heart attack, most strokes occur when there is a lack of oxygen, but in this case, to the brain. Once again, the plaque that builds up from excess LDL-C breaks open and a clot forms—blocking an artery that supplies blood to the brain. Without oxygen, brain cells start to die and symptoms begin to appear. Some of these include sudden weakness, paralysis or trouble with speech and sight. So, acting immediately is extremely important, as there’s a narrow window before damage can become irreversible.|
The risk of developing these conditions may also be caused or increased by having other chronic health concerns like diabetes and hypertension.
Having diabetes can go hand-in-hand with high levels of LDL-C, and when both are present, it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
In addition, the added problem of hypertension is also linked to premature heart disease and stroke. In fact, high LDL cholesterol and hypertension are two of the most common, serious and treatable medical conditions that lead to cardiovascular disease. Similarly, neither has visible symptoms and, as a consequence, they are frequently left untreated.
Check the Clock
Every 39 seconds, an adult dies from a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular disease.
Flip a Coin
An estimated 71 million adults in the U.S. have high LDL-C, but only 1 in 2 are being treated.
Rule of Thirds
Approximately 34% of U.S. high-risk patients have high LDL-C, but 2 in 3 don’t have it adequately controlled.
All of these conditions can be severe and have serious risks, including death. That’s why it’s so important to maintain an active role in managing your LDL cholesterol.