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Heart Attack Prevention - Check Your Cholesterol — an article on the Smart Living Network
May 17, 2008 at 1:18 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Heart Attack Prevention - Check Your Cholesterol

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Heart attack prevention

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, by definition is the death of the heart muscle from a sudden blockage of a coronary artery by a single blood clot. Blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle form the coronary arteries. When the coronary arteries deprive the blood and oxygen to the heart muscle, it's because of a blockage. Injuries to the heart muscle may also cause pressure and chest pain. Blood flow must be restored within 20-40 minutes before permanent death of the heart muscle will occur (1). Between six-eight hours is when the heart attack is finished (1). Scar tissue replaces the dead heart muscle.

Causes of heart attacks

There are several causes of heart attacks, but cholesterol is the focus of this particular article. The gradual collection of cholesterol plaques deposit in the walls of arteries is called atherosclerosis. It's this collection of cholesterol that actually causes the narrowing of the inner channel, also called the lumen, and the hardening of the arterial walls. When atherosclerosis narrows the arteries, an insufficient amount of blood is passed and unable to perform proper functions of the body. The reduction of blood flow to the legs can cause pain when exercising or walking, or leg ulcers and slow healing in wounds. Atherosclerosis also affects the blood flow to the brain and can lead to something called vascular dementia, which is actual mental deterioration that results from a slow death of the brain) or stroke, which is the sudden death of tissue in the brain.

Is cholesterol bad?

Not all cholesterol is bad. There's good and bad cholesterol. It's the bad, or LDL, cholesterol that we need to watch. The good, or HDL, cholesterol is what our bodies need for proper health. It's the saturated fats in cholesterol that are the culprits because that's what increases the risk for heart disease. Cholesterol is raised by trans fats, the very thing that is in all our children's lunches. Learn to read the label. Even if the front of the box says it's free of trans fats, it may still contain trans fats. Read the label. When there's a high level of cholesterol present in the body, it results in hypercholesterolemia, which in turn, becomes a high risk factor for coronary heart disease, the segue to a potentially fatal heart attack.

What foods contain cholesterol?

Cholesterol can be found in animal sources of food like egg yolks, fish, meat, poultry, seafood, and whole milk products. You won't find cholesterol in plant sources of food. Because our bodies makes most of the cholesterol it needs, which is approximately 1,000 mg daily, we don't need to overeat those foods (1). The American Heart Association recommends a daily cholesterol dose of 300 mg for healthy people (2). If someone has heart disease, the recommended daily cholesterol dose drops to 200 mg (2).

How popular are heart attacks?

Almost one million Americans experience a heart attack yearly (1). Out of that million, 400,000 of them die (1).

What else can a person do to prevent heart attacks?

Have your cholesterol levels checked regularly. You can't do this at home. Make the effort. There are lifestyle changes that people can do to lower their risk for heart disease. Increased physical activity actually raises the good cholesterol levels. Tobacco lowers good cholesterol levels and it increases the risk for blood clots. Go ahead, address your elevated cholesterol levels naturally and safely.

Sources:

(1) http://www.medicinenet.com/heart_attack/article.htm

(2) http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4488

Photo Credit: Spec-ta-cles

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