High Cholesterol Levels And Heart Disease Risk: Expert Decodes The Link
It's not uncommon for individuals to discover high cholesterol during a routine health check or when seeking medical attention after experiencing a heart attack.
High cholesterol levels significantly increases the risk of heart disease
Today, let us discuss a topic that has gained immense importance over the recent years - elevated blood cholesterol levels being a risk factor for heart attacks. It's not uncommon for individuals to discover high cholesterol during a routine health check or when seeking medical attention after experiencing a heart attack. However, some patients raise their concerns and questions about cholesterol and its medications, often suggesting that there may be a hidden agenda or lobby involved.
The Triple C - Cholesterol - Cardiac Connection
It's an unequivocal fact that elevated blood cholesterol levels are an established risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. High cholesterol levels promote the formation of fatty plaques in blood vessels and when these plaques rupture, they can lead to deadly events like heart attacks or strokes.
The Role of Cholesterol Medicines AKA Statins
Statins, a group of medications that helps lower blood cholesterol levels, have been extensively proven to reduce blood cholesterol levels, thereby reducing a person's chances of suffering from a heart attack or a stroke. They also cause reverse migration of cholesterol deposits from blood vessels, as well as, help stabilize these fatty deposits in vessel walls, preventing them from rupturing and causing heart attacks or strokes.
Addressing Common Concerns Patients May Have with Cholesterol Medicines:
Many individuals harbor concerns about the potential side effects of statins, including concerns about statins causing diabetes or requiring lifelong medication.
Side-Effects of Statins -
Side effects associated with these cholesterol medicines are quite rare. The most common side effect seen among patients is muscle pain, which occurs during the initial stages of treatment but often settles down over time.
The Risk of Diabetes -
As for diabetes, statins are mainly used for people who already have suffered heart attacks or strokes, or among people who have high cholesterol levels and whose risk scoring system shows an intermediate to high cardiovascular disease pattern. Most individuals falling into these categories already have factors that make them prone to diabetes. So, even though statins are not a direct cause of diabetes, they may slightly increase the risk among those who are already vulnerable to developing the disease. However, we can't deny the overall benefits of statins in reducing cardiovascular risk which definitely outweigh this small risk.
The Lifelong Medication Dilemma -
Statins effectively lower blood cholesterol levels as long as they are taken regularly. When medication is discontinued, cholesterol levels tend to slowly return to elevated levels because the body keeps producing them. Thus, the longer our blood vessels are exposed to high amounts of cholesterol, the more likely it is that fatty deposits will form. Individuals with constant high cholesterol or specific risk factors should consider long-term statin therapy to maintain their heart health.
It is wise for individuals with high cholesterol levels, personal or family history of cardiovascular disease, or those who use tobacco regularly, to consider taking statins regularly as prescribed by your doctor.
(Dr. Pradeep Haranahalli, Consultant - Interventional Cardiology, Manipal Hospital Whitefield)
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