High Cholesterol Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

High Cholesterol level is widely regarded to be one of the leading causes of coronary heart disease, which in turn, is the number one killer of women and men in the United States and most other developed countries. Statistics show that every year, more than a million Americans have heart attacks, and about a half million people die from heart disease. While cholesterol levels can be controlled by diet-control as well as medication, evidence exists to suggest that genetics play a major role in determining the cholesterol levels in an individual as well as his or her likelihood of having a heart attack.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that occurs naturally in the body and performs several vital functions, e.g., the formation of walls surrounding the body's cells and its conversion into certain hormones that control some body functions. Our body makes most of the cholesterol needed. It is also present in our diet, particularly animal fats. When the cholesterol level in blood is high, fatty plaques start to build up on the walls of arteries resulting in the narrowing and hardening of the arteries. This results in decreased blood-flow to the heart and thus less oxygen for the heart muscles causing pain (angina). If the blood flow to a part of the heart is cut off completely, it results in a heart attack. If blood supply to the brain is impaired in a similar manner, a stroke occurs.

There are two types of cholesterol -- the LDL cholesterol (or the "bad" cholesterol) and the HDL (or the "good" cholesterol). It is only the high levels of LDL that results in atherosclerosis, while the HDL actually protects against heart attacks and strokes by removing the LDL from the arteries.

Genetics & Cholesterol

From the time high levels of cholesterol was discovered as the reason behind one of the major causes of atherosclerosis and thus of heart-attacks, it has been recognized that some individuals are genetically resistant to atherosclerosis. The LDL level of such individuals does…

Sources Used in Document:


Harrison, Bill MD. (2003) "High Blood Pressure." Diseases and Conditions. Discoveryhealth.com. Retrieved on December 9, 2003 at http://health.discovery.com/diseasesandcond/encyclopedia/31.html

High Blood Cholesterol:

What You Need to Know." (2001) National Cholesterol Education Program. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved on December 9, 2003 at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/wyntk.htm#important

Why Is Genetics And Heart Disease Important?" (n.d.) Cholesterol, Genetics, And Heart Disease Institute. Retrieved on December 9, 2003 at http://www.heartdisease.org/whyimportant.html

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