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High Cholesterol (Hypercholesterolemia)
High cholesterol is characterised by elevated blood levels of LDL cholesterol. Cholesterol, a fat-soluble alcohol, normally combines with fats (lipids) in the blood. The lipid-cholesterol complex then links to protein, thereby forming a lipoprotein. As cholesterol proportions increase, the density of lipoproteins decreases. Low-density lipoprotein, called type LDL, contributes significantly to hypercholesterolemia. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) does not contain elevated levels of cholesterol, and therefore does not contribute to hypercholesterolemia.
Because blood consists of mostly water, and fat is not soluble in water, LDL cholesterol clumps together and clings to the walls of veins and arteries. If allowed to continue, this buildup can eventually lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, Atherosclerosis, Obesity, heart attack, and Stroke.
Causes of high cholesterol include a diet high in animal fats, a sedentary lifestyle, and genetics. The most effective way to prevent this disease is to exercise regularly and avoid animal fats. Studies have shown that consumption of HDL cholesterol, present in some vegetable fats, can actually reduce the risk of hypercholesterolemia.
1. Bell L, et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of Calcium carbonate in patients with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. Arch Intern Med 152: 2441-2444, 1992.