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Sticky cholesterol and its impact on heart health

India faces a significant burden of cholesterol problems across different age groups. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance essential for building cell membranes, producing hormones, and helping digestion. However, when sticky LDL (bad) cholesterol levels rise, it starts sticking to artery walls, forming plaque, which severely affects heart health. As plaque builds up, it narrows the arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart. This can lead to several heart problems, including:

Chest pain or discomfort due to reduced blood supply to the heart muscle.

A sudden blockage in a coronary artery, cutting off blood flow and potentially damaging heart tissue, causes a heart attack.

A similar blockage in an artery supplying the brain causing a stroke.

Symptoms of increased cholesterol

Early diagnosis is a life-saving step. High cholesterol often shows no symptoms, making early detection and intervention is crucial. Regular blood tests can help to identify your cholesterol levels, allowing you to take control before significant damage occurs.

Treatment options for sticky cholesterol:

Lifestyle changes: Having a balanced diet while limiting fat and processed foods intake can help. Regularly exercising, losing a few pounds, and cutting back on smoking will help reduce your cholesterol levels.

Reducing fat intake: According to Dr. Deepak Katyal, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiology, Manipal Hospital, Patiala, “When managing sticky cholesterol, minimize fat intake particularly saturated fats. These fats are commonly found in processed and fried foods. By opting for a healthy diet contributes to a healthier lipid profile, reducing the risk of plaque buildup in arteries.”

Engaging in regular exercises: Regular physical activity helps in managing sticky cholesterol. It helps control weight, improves overall heart health, and contributes to better cholesterol balance. Aim for moderate-intensity exercises per week, such as brisk walking or cycling.

Medication: In some cases, lifestyle changes alone may not provide relief. Your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication alongside these adjustments.

Procedural Options: In severe cases where blockages significantly impede blood flow, procedures like Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA), and Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) might be necessary to reroute blood around the blocked arteries and restore oxygen supply to the heart.

By controlling your cholesterol levels, you are in control of the health of your heart. Giving attention to early detection and good practices towards avoiding sticky cholesterol, as well as regular consultation with a doctor, when necessary, can minimize the risk of this substance inflicting long-term damage.

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