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Cholesterol is manageable: Dr Vijay Surase, cardiologist

Written by Dr Vijay Surase |Updated : February 24, 2015 6:49 PM IST

Cholesterol is a fat/ lipid that is produced in the liver and its normal levels are necessary for the proper functioning of the body. High levels of cholesterol can cause hypertension (high BP), angina (chest pain), heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular diseases. So it is very important to keep your cholesterol level in check. Control the controllable risk factors of cholesterol for better and healthy living.

A diet high in saturated fat, cholesterol, being overweight and lack of exercise raises LDL or the 'bad' cholesterol and lowers the HDL or 'good' cholesterol. The guidelines recommend getting no more than 30% calories from fat. Smoking may lower HDL by as much as 15 %. Metabolic Syndrome (associated with Diabetes) and stress levels have also been shown to elevate cholesterol levels. An Ohio State University study discovered that stress slows the body's metabolism of triglycerides, a type of fat linked to cardiovascular system disorders, including heart attacks. This allows the fat to remain in the blood longer, a factor that may speed up atherosclerosis development.

Avoid- consumption of bakery products, deep fried items, high-carbohydrate content foods (sweets), red meat, egg yolk, excess alcohol, excess oil and ghee products, milk products such as butter, paneer, etc. and junk food items such as pasta, pizza and burgers in regular meals.

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We Indians have a carbohydrate and fat centric diet unlike the westerners who have a protein-centric one. This in addition to many other reasons is the factor contributing for the higher incidence of coronary artery disease in Indians. To a certain extent the aggression of atherosclerosis can be retarded and its effect and presentation can be stalled by following a healthy lifestyle and abiding to a balanced protein-centric diet. However, one needs to remember that all fats are not bad. A certain amount of fats are required for all vital functions, metabolism, micro-ingredient absorption, Vitamin D synthesis etc.

Atherosclerosis is a continuous and insidious process which actually starts when we are born but its effects are not seen until wear and tear reaches a particular level to hamper the blood flow to vital organs. No age is immune to and from the effects of atherosclerosis. In the process of atherosclerosis, lipids (fats) get deposited onto the surface of the internal lining of the blood vessels causing speed-breakers (blocks) due to the gradual heaping of fat. Some portions of these blocks get ruptured or denuded causing a rough surface to form. Circulating blood cells, chiefly platelets and RBCs settle down in these rough areas and form clumps. Sudden formation of blood cell clot/clump reducing the circulation to a sector/s of heart pump is called as heart attack and if not treated this causes permanent damage to the heart. It's always better to prevent it from happening rather than facing emergency situation due to it.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of angina.

It's imperative for the cardiac patients to follow a meticulous diet plan and proper lifestyle. But what people need to understand is that balanced diet never means zero oil. There are so many misconceptions about the oil consumption and fear of cholesterol in the society. People who are fond of fried items do not realize that no matter what oil they choose, the quantity they consume is equally important. They proudly tell everybody that they use double filtered XYZ oil but still undergo angioplasty multiple times followed by bypass surgery. This is because they develop morbid obesity due to excess consumption of fat and lack of exercise.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of stress.

On the other hand, overcautious families of certain patients usually stop oil usage completely making the food items cooked non-palatable. The patient feels depressed and visits the specialist totally withdrawn appearing, shrivelled, dry-desiccated and pale with loss of usual confidence. They develop severe muscle fatigue, aches all over, slowing down of metabolism, drop in immunity, chances of resistant infections, brain haemorrhages and osteoporosis (fragile bones). The cardiac patients who undergo treatment in the form of angioplasty or by-pass surgery develop terrible fear of oil consumption.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of stroke.

So, summing it up, cholesterol and lipids are manageable. There is nothing to fear if you know the rules you need to follow.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of hypertension.

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