Browsing: Heart Disease

How High Should Cholesterol Be For Good Health?

How high should cholesterol be? It seems like a simple enough question, but it can not be answered with a single number. There are two different types of lipoproteins in your body that determine your cholesterol levels, and where you want to keep the “bad” kind as low as possible, you may actually want to increase the levels of the other type.

High cholesterol has no symptoms, so there is no way to know what your cholesterol levels are without seeing a doctor and having a blood test taken. When your doctor gives you the results of this test, he or she will probably break it down into three categories: your overall cholesterol levels, your HDL levels, and your LDL levels.

The “Bad” LDL Cholesterol

LDL stands for “low-density lipoproteins,” and it is generally referred to as the bad kind of cholesterol. That is not to say that your body does not need this type of cholesterol. In fact, your body could not function without it. If there is too much of it in your blood, however, it will clog up your arms, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

So how high should cholesterol be as far as LDL levels are concerned? The desirable level for LDL cholesterol is considered to be below 129 mg / dL. Anything above 160 mg / dL is too high, and anything above 190 mg / dL is extremely high. If your LDL cholesterol levels are above 130 mg / dL, and especially if they are above 160 mg / dL, you will want to consider making dietary changes to cut down on the amount of cholesterol and saturated fats you consume.

The “Good” HDL Cholesterol

HDL stands for “high density lipoproteins,” and it is considered to be the “good” type of cholesterol. It picks up the LDL cholesterol that is not being used by the body and delivers it to the liver for repackaging. Your levels of HDL cholesterol should be 60 mg / dL and above.

If your HDL levels are below 40 mg / dL, they are considered to be too low. One way you can increase them is to eat more fish and unsaturated fats. If you do not have enough HDL, your excess LDL will not be taken out of your bloodstream and will cause your total cholesterol levels to be too high, so it is important you maintain HDL at its proper level.

Total Cholesterol Levels

When most people ask, “How high should cholesterol be?” they are thinking of their total combined cholesterol level. This should be less than 200 mg / dL to be considered desirable, and anything over 240 mg / dL is considered high. What is really important, however, is what the ratio of HDL cholesterol to total cholesterol is. For women, this should be about 1: 4, and for men it should be no lower than 1: 4..

If you are wondering, “How high should cholesterol be?” make sure you take both HDL and LDL levels into consideration. If your overall levels are too high, you need to raise HDL levels and lower LDL, either through dietary changes, exercise, supplements, or prescription medication. See your doctor for more information.

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An Understanding Of The Cause of Cholesterol Problems

The cause of cholesterol problems can not be attributed to any one factor in particular. Most people believe that only people who are overweight and unhealthy have high cholesterol, but this is not always the case. This fact can be quite devastating for a person who is very fit and is told that they have high cholesterol. I know a young woman who was an aerobics instructor, taking classes 5 days a week and she was told she had a cholesterol level of 9. She was devastated with the news.

Although it is true that being overweight can negatively affect your cholesterol levels, your weight is definitely not the sole determinate of whether or not your cholesterol levels are too high. In fact, a person who suffers from high cholesterol may unexpectedly appear to be completely healthy, even while their arteries are slowly narrowing and hardening.

Having high cholesterol is very dangerous because it can lead to heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Because it has no symptoms, it is especially important to understand what can cause it so that you can be aware of whether or not you are at risk. Below is a list of the most common causes of high cholesterol.

1. Weight. Being overweight can in fact increase your LDH (bad cholesterol) levels, and losing weight will lower them. Losing weight can also raise your HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

2. Diet. Consuming a high amount of cholesterol will obviously increase the level of cholesterol in your body, but a diet high in saturated fats and low in fiber can also be the cause of cholesterol problems.

Regulating your diet is one of the most important things you can do to avoid high cholesterol. Try to focus on eating more unsaturated fats and less saturated ones, and keep your overall fat intake below thirty-five percent of your daily diet. Also make sure you get plenty of fiber, as this helps take the bad cholesterol out of your blood stream.

3. Lack of Exercise . Regular exercise is very important to keeping your cholesterol levels in check. Walking, biking, or running for just thirty minutes a day can keep your bad cholesterol down, and more rigorous exercise can even raise good cholesterol levels.

4. Stress. Some studies have shown that mental stress can be a cause of cholesterol levels rising.

5. Age and Gender. Your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease increases with your age. Men over forty-five and women over fifty-five have higher risk than people in their twenties and thirties. Post-menopausal women have the highest risk, but pre-menopausal women are actually at lower risk for heart disease than men of the same age.

6. Genes. If you have a history of heart disease or high cholesterol in your family, you may be at risk, even if you always exercise and eat well. It appears that some people just are not able to effectively metabolize LDH cholesterol, and this trait is generally inherited.

As previously stated, there are no symptoms associated with high cholesterol, so the only way to know if you have it is through a blood test that your doctor can administrator. If you have more than one of the above risk factors, you should make sure to get yourself tested for high cholesterol regularly.

These factors are the main cause of cholesterol problems, but even if you do not have any, you should be tested about once every five years. High cholesterol is very serious because it puts you at risk for having a heart attack or stroke, so it is important that you know you have it before it is too late!

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Reducing Your Arterial Plaque Risk Factors

If you have risk factors for heart disease, then you should see a health care provider. It may be recommended that you go a calcium screening. This can be done through a cardiovascular heart scan. It will take images of your heart to determine if you have arterial plaque deposits. It is also a good idea to do so if you have had any procedures or open heart surgery. You can have plaque in your arms. Once you know that you have plaque in your arms, you will be in increased risk for developing heart attacks.

Some of the most common risk factors exist is developing arterial plaque and then a heart attack. However, these are also risk factors for so many other diseases such as liver cancer. It is important for the person to consider what they are doing or not doing, can lead to serious problems with their health in the long term.

One risk factor to look at is smoking. Smoking is the most serious conditions and can develop into heart disease. If you smoke you are more likely to put yourself at risk of heart disease than someone who does not. The reason is because the chemicals in cigarette smoke can affect the blood. It can cause blood flow into sluggish and lacks the normal amount of oxygen in the red blood cells. Blood that is moving slowly will not provide nutrients to the tissues in time will also have a greater chance of depositing cholesterol in the walls of the artery. This situation is further complicated by the contents of the smoke thinning the walls of the artery. This is all a recipe for disaster as there is decreased oxygen during this process.

Another big risk factor that can contribute to arterial plaque and a heart attack is lack of exercise. Doctors have been telling us for years that we need to exercise. The reason for this is exercise has been shown to increase the strength of the wall of the artery. When an arterial plaque forms, it is deep within the vessel wall of the artery. As it continues to grow in size, it can thin the layer of the artery wall as it stretches to compensate for the plaque growing inside of it.

Sometimes the wall will become too thin and burst. This is a serious condition that can happen in almost any artery of the body. So imagine this happening within the brain or heart. Instead exercise is advised by doctors because it strengthens the arterial wall and makes it hard for the layer to become thin and burst. This is great prevention for a heart attack.

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Atherosclerosis and Arterial Plaque

Atherosclerosis can be a deadly disease and it is important to have an understanding of this condition. By having a good knowledge for this condition, you can assess if you and your loved ones might be at risk. So you are better educated to reduce your risk factors.

Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body. Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of these arteries and is caused by the slow buildup of arterial plaque on the walls of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is the name of this disease and it is the build of plaque that has formed inside the artery.

Atherosclerosis can start in childhood and affect the arteries that are located all over the brain. The artery in kidneys, heart, legs or even brain can become affected. Anyone with the common risk factors can be affected.

In many surgery the faty buildup is removed from the artery. This fatty buildup is commonly known as arterial plaque.

When plaque is hard, it causes the walls of the artery to be thicken and become hard. While the plaque is forming and in a soft consistency, it is easier to break it down. However, this can be dangerous as the plaque that in a softer consistency may travel to other parts of the body. While it is traveling it can become lodged in the smaller blood vessels and develop often known as a blood clot. Depending on how bad the situation might be a blood clot can be quite severe and totally obstruct the blood flow in the vessel. In some circumstances, the flow in the blood vessel may only be partially substantiated by the soft plaque in the vessel.

The problem with plaque is that as it increases, it can cause more problems that lead to medical conditions and can affect not only the heart but also the major organs. Think of an erection within the brain or kidney. With the increase in plaque deposits, the person is at increased risk for a heart attack or suffering for angina. They can experience stroke, which can be fatal in some people.

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis

There are only a small amount of symptoms that the person will experience before any serious medical disease or condition arises. Usually if the person is suspected of Atherosclerosis, they will be referred by their family physician to a vascular specialist for confirmation of arterial plaque. Surgery and medication are options for treatment. Atherosclerosis is treatable and only one percent of the population will have very severe atherosclerotic disease. This is a condition that should be treated because it affects millions of people and can be fatal. Any with risk factors should think carefully how their family would have affected if they die as a result of complications associated with Atherosclerosis.

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How to Make Sure You Are Eating a Heart Healthy Diet!

Having a heart healthy diet should apply to both men and women except with the women the portions need to be a little smaller than what a man might have. You need to know what foods are beneficial for your cardiovascular system and how well it functions as well as what kinds of food can do you harm. You also need to be aware of and be able to include the other things that are heart healthy alone just foods in order to have a healthy heart.

You need to eat a variety of different foods that are good for your heart. This means that you need a lot of foods that are high in fiber as well as antioxidants. You should probably try to take in 25 to 30 grams of fiber on a daily basis. The best fiber to get is soluble fiber because this is the fiber that actually helps to remove cholesterol. Some of those foods would be:

  • Oats, barley and whole wheat
  • Brown rice
  • Legumes
  • Lentils
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Flax seed
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Fruits and Veggies

You should also include a variety of plant ster foods. These kinds of foods according to the American Dietetic Association have the ability to lower your LDL or bad cholesterol. These can be found in the following foods:

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetable and corn oils
  • Avocados
  • Sunflower seeds

They are also added to the following products:

  • Orange juice
  • Yogurt drinks
  • Margarine
  • Snack bars

You also should include plenty of foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids. These are foods that are known to be high in antioxidants as well as ingredients that will help to lower your cholesterol. So eating fish like salmon, herring, trout, sardines and tuna (not packed in oil) are good for getting this important nutrient into your body.

Foods that you should try to avoid because they can be harmful to your heart and will increase your bad cholesterol are the following:

  • Organ meats
  • Red meats (without lean)
  • Whole fat dairy products (like whole milk for an example)
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Egg yolks
  • Processed food
  • A lot of fast foods
  • Deep fried foods
  • Commercially baked products like cakes, pies, energy bars and cookies all have trans fats in them

It's very important that when you go shopping that you make sure to read all of the labels. When you read and understand the food label you will find it easier to find the foods that are good for your heart and avoid the ones that are bad for your heart. Always remember that when you look at the ingredients that the item that is listed first means that this is what the main ingredient is in the product.

It's also important to note you could be buying extremely healthy foods and you might be making it unhealthy by the way you cook it and then you are just defeating the purpose so make sure that you cook your foods healthy as well and try to avoid frying them as much as possible.

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Organic Wheatgrass Powder: Preventing the Killer Heart Attack

Listen to your heart;
It's beating steady and strong;
The silent music of life and death.

For a lot of people, they believe their heart is just another organ. A beating muscle responsible for pumping blood and nutrients throughout the body. It is true that the heart moves in the simplest of functions, and it's rhythmic beating often goes unnoticed.

Yet, for the longest time, heart attack has been the most notorious of natural deaths, and the human heart, the most silent of killers. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, heart attack is the leading cause of death around the globe. More than 17 million men and women die from heart attack, heart disease and stroke each year.

The unfortunate fact about heart attack is that the number of victims are rapidly rising every year. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco smoking is one of the prime suspects that cause heart attack. Of course eating junk foods and living an inactive or an unheathy lifestyle increases the risks of having heart problems. Obese or overweight individuals also have higher chances of acquiring cardiovascular diseases.

What is the best way to prevent heart attack?

Obviously, there's no quick fix to reversing years of substance abuse (like tobacco smoking or drug intake) on the heart muscle. It will take years and even decades of proper nutrition and an effective physical regimen to recoup and improve the condition of a damaged heart. However, for those who are already keeping their bodies healthy and free from chemical abuse, below are but a few of the best strategies to prevent or stop heart attack in its tracks.

a. Eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables as well as superfoods like Organic Wheatgrass Powder, helps a lot in lessening the risks of heart attack.

b. Living a healthy and an active lifestyle also promotes good health, and can enhance the condition of the heart.

c. Staying away from vices like drinking hard liquor or constantly smoking tobacco can greatly prevent the physical damage of chemical substances to the heart, and can extremely prolong a person's life.

Organic Wheatgrass is around 70% chlorophyll, and in concentrated amounts, can support the job of hemoglobin in blood in spreading nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Organic Wheatgrass Powder is one of the most important superfoods in providing the body with the necessary vitamins, minerals and amino acids to improve the condition and the performance of the heart, as well as other organs of the body.

Organic Wheatgrass Powder can be purchased from a local health store, and many can even buy whole foods online today.

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Emergency First Aid Advice – Recognising a Stroke Using the FAST Test

On average, one person every 40 seconds has a stroke in the United States. Early medical treatment can significantly improve the outcome of a stroke, there before being able to recognize the first signs & symptoms is incredibly important.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a problem with the blood vessels that supply in the brain. The brain has a large and complex system of arteries and veins supplying it with blood. The medical term for a stroke is cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Another term sometimes used for a stroke is a “brain attack”.

Broadly, there are two types of stroke:

Ischaemic stroke: A blood clot blocks an artery in the brain causing death of brain tissue.

Hameorragic stroke: An artery in the brain ruptures causing internal bleeding.

Ischaemic strokes are more common than Hameorragic strokes and both require urgent emergency medical care. Strokes cause a variety of neurological symptoms which can be different for individual people. The severity of the stroke will depend on how much of the brain has been affected and for how long.

There are numerous risk factors for having a stroke, some of the most common include:

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Family history
  • History of previous strokes

For more information on stroke risk factors and how to reduce your risk, you should speak to your Doctor.

Recognizing a stroke using the FAST test

If you suspect a stroke, there is a simple test you can use. The 'FAST' test:

F ace: Does the person have any facial weakness? Can they smile evenly? Does one side of their face appear to droop?

A rms: Can the person raise both arms equally? Can they squeeze your hands?

S peech: Can the person speak clearly? (for example, say his or her name)

T ime: Time to call an ambulance if the person fails any of the above tests.

Remember, not all of these signs may be present. If you suspect a stroke for any reason then call an ambulance. Try to remain calm and provide reassurance as the person will be incredibly frightened. If the person is in a public place then try and provide some privacy and move people on.

Sometimes the symptoms can appear to ease and even disappear completely. This is known as a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) or “mini stroke”. These often preceded larger more serious strokes, so urgent medical advice should be thought if you suspect someone has suffered a TIA.

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Causes of Heart Attack: Atherosclerosis, and How to Beat It

Are you an average American? If so, you will die of cardiovascular disease. Typically, a heart attack is the culprit. If you are average, you do not wish to die early, you do not wish to live a life that is limited by disease, you do not wish to spend huge amounts of your family income and assets on heart attack care, and you do wish to see your children grow up. I think you can have your wishes. Read on.

Although there are several causes of heart attack, one stands out as a huge factor. Atherosclerosis is commonly thought of as hardening of the arteries. More accurately, the inside surface of the artery builds up with plaque. This substance contributes to the insufficiency of the artery to allow enough blood to flow through it to provide oxygen to our tissues. When it happens in a heart artery it can be deadly. This plaque can lead to blood clots that suddenly stop up the artery carrying oxygen to the heart muscle. The result can be the death of part of the heart muscle also known as heart attack. Americans die of heart disease more that any other problem according to the Center for Disease Control.

But why does this happen and what can be done about it?

Commonly listed causes are: free radicals, saturated fats, and other factors directly resulting from poor diet as well as a lack of proper exercise. Let us start with proper exercise. We want to know why we must drag ourselves from in front of the TV and outside or to the gym to exercise.

There are at least two good answers:

  1. Aerobic exercise increases how much oxygen deprivation our heart can stand without going into heart pain and heart attack. Ask a health care professional familiar with your physical condition before attacking this too ambitiously, but do attack it.
  2. Aerobic exercise increases the flexibility of the blood vessels which lessen the likelihood of heart attack.

If you want to live a lifestyle that does not include a heart attack this is a great place to start. I did mention free radicals, saturated fats, and other factors directly resulting from poor diet.

Poor nutrition is completely addressed by the Mucusless Diet. If you would like to know more about this diet, type “Jim Spalding and Mucusless Diet” into the search engine on the internet and you should be able to find information that has been placed there for you. To dramatically show what poor diet does to the average American, a couple of reporters from ABC were tested at Cardiologist Robert Vogel's lab before and after subjecting themselves to what many would think was a great meal. This included: 3 course lunch, bacon cheeseburger wrapped in quesadilla, deep-fried macaroni and cheese appetizer, and a great cookie smothered in ice-cream. (More than 6000 calories and 187 Grams saturated fat).

What was the result? 2 hours later ….

  • Blood discolored with fat
  • narrowed arteries struggled to keep blood flow due to impaired endothelial function

This is just from ONE meal! Think about a regular lifestyle of this type of food. Does it sound familiar? Is it any wonder that we Americans die mainly of cardiovascular disease? You should watch the video of the report for yourself at http://blogs.abcnews.com/theworldnewser/2009/07/what-exactly-does-a-6190-calorie-lunch-do-to-your-body.html . Diet is the second method you have to beat this and stay out of the ER.

Diet and exercise are very good. If you want to aggressively pursue this monster called heart attack, then cleansing and herbal aids are for you. What is cleansing? This is using normal body channels of elimination to rid our systems of noxious poisons and harmful substances so that they stop killing us. One wonderful and effective example is the Three Day Juice Cleanse. For instructions, please refer to my blog site.

Next are herbal aids. These would include:

  • Cayenne to open up and rebuild the blood vessels and prevent heart attack
  • Apple Cider Vinegar to help remove the built-up plaque from arms
  • A blood circulation formula that includes ginger, cayenne, goldenseal, ginseng, parsley, and garlic.
  • Hawthorne Berry syrup (if you already have had heart attack)

Do not be average! Do not let the cardiovascular disease problem of heart attack by atherosclerosis kill you. Watch your children grow up. Use Diet, Exercise, Cleansing, and Herbal Aids to beat this killer of Americans. For more precise information on using these procedures, please contact me through my blog site listed below.

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A Brief List of Foods That Lower Cholesterol

If you are looking to lower your cholesterol levels, a good place to start is with the foods you eat. Of the factors that increase one's risk for heart disease, an unhealthy diet, is one of the easiest to remedy. You want to have a diet that is low in saturated fats and high in cholesterol-reducing foods. Below is a brief list of foods that lower cholesterol.

1. Fish. Although you should stay away from most meats if you want to lower your cholesterol, fish is one animal product you can consume that is actually improvements cholesterol levels. This is because fish is low in saturated fat and high in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 is incredibly effective at lowering your body's bad cholesterol levels. Some of the types of fish that contain the most Omega-3 include tuna, trout, and salmon. Just make sure not to fry your fish, as eating fried foods is one of the worst things you can do for your cholesterol levels.

2. Olive oil. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and oleic acid, both of which are good for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Olive oil is an ideal cholesterol buster because it both lowers cholesterol levels and raises the good ones.

3. Avocado. This tasty food is also high in monounsaturated fats and oleic acids. However, even though the fat avocados contain is good fat, it can still lead to weight gain, and being overweight will increase your cholesterol. Eat this fruit in moderation.

4. Chocolate. You may be surprised to see this one on a list of foods that lower cholesterol, but it's true. One ounce of dark chocolate contains ten times the antioxidants that are found in a strawberry, and is good for both lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. As with the avocado, however, chocolate can lead to weight gain, so do not have too much more than an ounce.

5. Carrots. We all know that carrots are good for your health because they are high in vitamins A and C, but they are also good for lowering your cholesterol. Carrots contain calcium pectate, a type of fiber that binds bile acids. These bile acids assist in carrying cholesterol out of our systems.

6. Popcorn. This is another food you may not have expected to make the list of foods that lower cholesterol. While it is true that popcorn can be very unhealthy if you drench it in butter, plain popcorn is a great snack for people who are trying to keep their cholesterol in check because it is full of soluble fiber.

7. Beans. Beans are a good alternative to cholesterol raising meat when you are looking for a way to get protein. Not only are they high in protein, but beans are also low in fat and full of the fiber you need to bring down your cholesterol levels. Some types of beans even contain helpful Omega-3 fatty acids.

This is just a short list of foods that lower cholesterol levels, but it is a good place to start if you are trying to develop healthier eating habits. As a general rule, just try to eat more monounsaturated fats, fiber, and Omega-3, and stay away from unsaturated fats. If you do this, your cholesterol levels are sure to improve.

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What Should My Cholesterol Be? A Guide to Healthy Cholesterol Levels

If you are worried that your cholesterol is too high, your first question may well be, “Well, what should my cholesterol be?” The answer to this question is not as simple as you may think. To really understand what your cholesterol levels should be, you must first know about the different types of cholesterol and how they work in your body.

Have I Got Too Much Cholesterol?

The first thing you should know if you are asking, “What should my cholesterol be?” is that not all cholesterol is bad for you. In fact, your body needs some cholesterol in order to function. It helps to create hormones, digestive juices, vitamin D, nerve synapses, and is a major component in cell membranes.

When you have more cholesterol in your blood than your body needs, however, the excess starts to build up on the walls of your arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. This can lead to heart disease, and if a blood clot gets done in these narrow arms, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. For this reason, it is incredibly important that you keep your cholesterol levels in check.

“Good” and “Bad” Types of Cholesterol

There are two main types of cholesterol, and it is the ratio between these two that will determine whether or not your cholesterol levels are healthy. The first type is of cholesterol is called low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, and it is usually referred to as “bad” cholesterol, because it is the type that will clog your arteries. The other kind of cholesterol is high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, and it is known as “good” cholesterol because it helps to carry excess LDL cholesterol out of your blood.

Both LDL and HDL cholesterol is needed in your body, but it is essential to maintain the proper ratio of these two in order to avoid heart disease. In women, this ratio should be no less than one part HDL cholesterol per four parts total cholesterol (1: 4), and for men it should be no less than 1: 4..

What Numbers Are Right For Cholesterol?

So now that you know about the two different kinds of cholesterol, you are probably saying to yourself, “Yes, but what should my cholesterol be numerically , for both types?” Cholesterol levels are measured inmilligrams per deciliter (mg / dL), and they can only be determined though a blood test. Your results will typically be broken down into your total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL levels.

An optimal range for total cholesterol levels would be less than 180 mg / dL, although anything below 200 is still desirable. Anything between 200 and 239 mg / dL is considered to be borderline high and should be closely closed to make sure it does not go up. Levels of 240 mg / dL and over are considered high, and your doctor will probably recommend that you make medical changes or take medication to lower them.

For LDL levels specifically, the optimal range is considered to be lower than 100 mg / dL. Levels of 129 mg / dL and below are still good, but if they are any higher than that you should start considering making diet changes. Levels of 160 mg / dL and above are considered high, and anything about 190 mg / dL is very high.

HDL cholesterol levels should ideally be above 60mg / dL. Levels of 40 mg / dL and below are considered low. Remember, if your LDL or total cholesterol levels are high, you want to actually raise your HDL levels, not lower them. Increased HDL levels will carry more LDL out of your blood, lowering your bad cholesterol levels.

If you have been wondering “What should my cholesterol be?” hopefully this article has helped answer your question. If you have any doubts or further inquiries, you should discuss them with your physician. They will be able to give you further information and advice about lowering your LDL cholesterol levels.

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How to Choose the Right Surgeon for Your Heart Valve Surgery

Having a doctor advise you that valve surgery is needed to treat your heart condition can be a frightening event. However, correcting a malfunctioning heart valve is necessary measure that most likely will save your life. Although most heart surgeries are performed successfully there is still an element of risk involved. One of the ways you can reduce the chances of anything going wrong is to choose the right surgeon. A knowledgeable and experienced heart surgeon can make the necessary repairs while decreasing the chances of complications occurring during the surgery. Here are a few tips for picking the right doctor.

Your primary care physician will most likely refer you to who they think is the best surgeon for the valve surgery. However, do not feel as though you are constrained by their recommendation. You are free to shop around. Keep in mind, though, that if you will be using insurance that you should confirm the insurance company will pay the doctor you extremely choose. Most insurance companies work with a network of doctors and it is a good idea to call your provider to get a list of heart surgeons who are covered by your policy.

Prior to scheduling your valve surgery, meet with the heart surgeon for a consultation. Take this time to ask the doctor questions about their experience in the type of surgery you are having. You want someone who is knowledgeable and has had plenty of experience in this area. Ask them how long they have been performing surgeries like yours, how many procedures that perform every year, and if there is any new technology they may be using to ensure your surgery is successful. There should also be a discussion about your recovery and any follow-up visits that may be necessary.

Other things to consider about your heart surgeon is whether they are board certified, where they received their education from, and if they have had any malpractice lawsuits filed against them. Lastly, determine what kind of hospital they are working in. If it is a learning hospital then a resident may be assisting with the surgery or performing it under the supervision of the primary surgeon. Clarify all the details incorporating your valve surgery. This is also a good time to gauge the doctor's “bedside manner”. You should feel comfortable with the doctor. They will be performing a life saving surgery on you. Therefore, you should feel confident that you are in good hands.

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Cholesterol – Your Life and Blood

A newborn baby that is being breast-fed by its mother receives a high dose of cholesterol right from the beginning of its life. Mother's milk contains twice the cholesterol of cow's milk! Nature certainly has no intention of destroying a baby's heart by giving it such high amounts of cholesterol. On the contrary, a healthy heart consists of 10% pure cholesterol (all water removed). Our brain is made of even more cholesterol than the heart is and half of our adrenal glands consist of it. Cholesterol is an essential building block of all our body cells and is needed for every metabolic process. Because cholesterol is such an important substance for the body, every single cell is capable of producing it. We could not even live a single day without it.

The benefits of cholesterol

  • is important for brain development
  • protects the nerves against damage or injury
  • repairs damaged sections (seals off lesions)
  • supports immune functions
  • gives elasticity to red blood cells
  • stabilizes and protects cell membranes
  • is the basic ingredient of most sexual hormones
  • helps to form the skin
  • is the essential substance which the skin uses to make vitamin D
  • is the basic ingredient used to manufacture the body's stress hormones
  • is needed to form bile acids to help digestion of fats and keep us lean
  • helps to prevent kidney damage in diabetes

Cholesterol plays a vital role in every living being. Microbes, bacteria, viruses, plants, animals, and human beings all depend on it. Since cholesterol is so important for our body, we can not solely depend on its supply from external sources, but must be able to produce it independently as well. Normally, our body makes about half a gram to one gram of cholesterol a day, depending on how much the body requires at the time. The main cholesterol producers are the liver and the small intestines. These organs release the cholesterol into the blood stream where it is immediately tied to blood proteins that are responsible for transporting it to their designated areas for the purposes listed above. Cholesterol constituents of fat and protein molecules, which gives it the name 'Lipo Protein'. Only about five percent of our cholesterol circulates in the blood, the rest is used for numerous activities in the body's cells.

If a healthy person consumed 100g of butter a day (the average European eats 18g a day), he would ingest 240-mg cholesterol, of which only 30-60% would be absorbed through his intestines. This would give him about 90 mg cholesterol every day. Yet, of this amount, only 12 mg would eventually end up in his blood and raise the cholesterol level by as little as 0.2%. In comparison, our body is able to produce 400 times more cholesterol than we could get from eating 100g butter. In other words, if you eat more than the usual amount of cholesterol with your food, your blood cholesterol levels will naturally rise. However, to balance this increase your body will automatically reduce its own cholesterol production. This self-regulating mechanism ensures that cholesterol remains on the exact level that your body requires in order to sustain optimum functions and equilibrium.

If eating fatty foods does not significantly increase cholesterol levels to meet the body's demands for this vital substance then the body must take other more drastic measures. One of them is the stress response. If your body runs low in cholesterol, you are likely to feel stressed. You will lose your calm and patience, and feel tense. Stress is a powerful trigger for cholesterol production in the body. Since cholesterol is the basic constituent of all stress hormones, any unsettling situation will use up large quantities of cholesterol. To make up for the loss or increased demand of cholesterol, the liver starts making more of it.

Take the example of the cholesterol-increasing effect of television. Research has shown that watching television for several hours at a time can drive up blood cholesterol more dramatically than any other so called risk factors, including diet, sedentary lifestyle, or genetic disposition. Exposure to television is a great challenge for the brain. It is far beyond the brain's capacity to process the flood of incoming stimuli that emanate from the overwhelming number of picture frames appearing on the TV screen every second. The resulting strain takes its toll. Blood pressure increases to help move more oxygen, glucose, cholesterol, vitamins, and other nutrients around the body and to the brain, all of which are used up very quickly by the heavy brainwork. Add violence, suspense and the noise of gunshots etc., to the spectacle and the adrenal glands respond with shots of adrenaline to prepare the body for a “fight or flight”. This causes contracting of many large and small blood vessels in the body, leading to shortage of water, sugar and other nutrients in the cells.

The signs for this stress-response can be several. You may feel shattered, exhausted, and stiff in neck and shoulders, very thirsty, lethargic, depressed, and even “too tired” to go to sleep. If the body did not bother to increase cholesterol levels during such stress encounters, we would have millions of television deaths by now. Thanks to rising cholesterol levels for saving TV viewers!

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How to Recognise a Heart Attack

According to the World Health Organization, Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. Heart attacks make up a significant proportion of these deaths. Being able to quickly recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack is incredibly important, as early medical treatment significantly improves the prognosis.

What is a heart attack?

The heart is a muscle which pumps blood around the body. Like every other muscle in the body, it requires a good blood supply to ensure enough oxygen & nutrients are delivered and waste metabolic products (such as Carbon Dioxide) are removed.

The heart receives its blood supply from the coronary arteries which branch off from the aorta (the main artery in your body).

If a coronary artery becomes blocked (eg: due to a clot), then the heart muscle beyond the point of the blockage will not receive an adequate blood supply. This will result in death of the heart muscle.

The medical term for a heart attack is 'myocardial infarction' (myocardium means heart muscle, infarction is tissue death due to lack of oxygen)

Signs and symptoms

Common signs & symptoms include:

  • Central chest pain, which may spread to the arms / jaw / back / abdomen. Does not ease or go away.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Casualty becomes pale and sweaty
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Irregular or weak pulse

Not all of these symptoms may be present. In fact, some heart attacks can be 'silent' with very little pain which is often mistaken for indigestion. There has been some research which suggests these 'silent' attacks are more common among women and diabetic patients.

If you have any reason to suspect a heart attack, you should treat for one. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

First aid treatment

Step 1: Call an ambulance / emergency medical help, say that you suspect someone is having a heart attack.

Step 2: Make the person comfortable, if possible ask them to sit on the floor. The best position is known as the “W” position, this involves the person sitting up with something under their knees to raise them. This reduces the strain on the heart.

Step 3: If you are able to, ask the casualty to chew on a 300mg (big) aspirin. If they have any other medication for their heart (a spray etc.) which a doctor has told them to use, then let the casualty use it.

The casualty may lose consciousness before the ambulance arrives. Try to be reassuring and calm, the casualty will be incredibly frightened and anxious which could aggravate their condition.

No two heart attacks are the same. Different people may suffer different symptoms, there is not always the 'classic' presentation described above.

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Discover The Signs Of Low Cholesterol

Most of us have heard how dangerous high cholesterol can be for our health. What you may not know, however, is that it is also possible to have cholesterol levels that are too low. Our bodies need a certain amount of cholesterol to operate properly, so it is good to know what the signs of low cholesterol are if we are to stay healthy.

Why Do Our Bodies Need Cholesterol?

Cholesterol plays a very important role in our bodies. Although too much of it can cause a plaque to build up and clog our arteries, without it you would not be able to survive.

Cholesterol is a key component in the membranes of our cells, and makes up a good portion of our brain tissue. It also helps form our nerve synapses, which are fundamental to our sense of touch and communication between all the different parts of our bodies. In addition to all of these vital functions, cholesterol also helps form hormones, digestive juices, and vitamin D.

As you can imagine, not having enough of this important molecule can be hazardous to a person's health. Low levels are believed to increase a person's risk of cancer, depression, and anxiety. In pregnant women, a low level may result in preterm births or low birth weights. It is true that these risks are rare, but they are serious enough to warrant concern.

How Do I Know if I Have Low Levels?

There are a few signs of low cholesterol, but they are not very common. Just as with determining high cholesterol, the only way to know for sure that your cholesterol is too low is through having a blood test.

One sign is increased depression or anxiety, but this symptom can be a result of a number of different factors and is not in any way a sure sign of low cholesterol.

One specific form of low cholesterol called Tangier Disease has symptoms that include orangish-yellow tonsils, an enlarged liver, and an enlarged spleen, but you can have low cholesterol without exhibiting these symptoms. In fact, most people who have low cholesterol display no signs at all, which is why it is important to get your blood checked.

What Should I Do If I Have Low Cholesterol?

It is possible for a person to have low cholesterol without ever experiencing any health problems, but if your levels fall below 160 mg / dL, it would be a good idea to play it safe and try to raise your cholesterol. The easiest way to do this is through increasing your consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are mainly found in oily fish. Omega-3 can also be bought as a supplement at your local vitamin / health store.

You do not want to wait until it is too late to do something about your dangerous cholesterol levels, but there are no clear signs of low cholesterol or high cholesterol. For this reason, you should make sure to check your cholesterol levels through a blood test at least once every five years. Cholesterol levels are easy to change, but you can not do anything about them if you do not know there is anything wrong with them!

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Too Much Protein Is Not Good For The Heart

Protein Storage – A Time Bomb!

Obese people have both high concentrations of fats and excessive amounts of protein in the blood. The blood's tendency towards clotting, considered to be the greatest cause for heart attack or stroke, stems almost exclusively from the saturation of proteins in the blood. (Note that smoking also increases blood protein concentrations, as shown below). Fats, on the other hand, have no blood-clotting ability. In their attempt to avert a heart attack, the capillary cells absorb the excess protein, convert it into collagen fiber, and store it in their basal membranes. Although this emergency response has a blood-thinning and, therefore, life-saving effect, it also makes the blood walls thicker and more vulnerable to injury.

Examinations of connective tissue in obese people have proved that it contains not only plump fat cells, but also large amounts of dense collagen-fiber. Collagen is 100 percent pure protein. Building more collagen-fiber than normally needed is one of the main emergency measures the body takes to deal with dangerously high protein concentrations in the blood. By removing the protein from the blood and theby putting it out of circulation, the blood becomes thin and a major crisis is avoided. But the situation changes drastically when the body's 'protein stores' are all filled up to capacity, and protein consumption continues. This time, the blood becomes and remains aligned with protein. In such a case, the blood begins to permanently thicken and develop a tendency towards clotting.

Without the afflicted person takes aspirin, which has a blood-thinning effect, a stroke or heart attack may occur. Yet in the long term, aspirin not only fails to prevent such an accident but strongly encourages it. A heightened risk of deadly uncontrolled bleeding may also result from regular or excessive use of aspirin. In addition, once aspirin treatment discontinues, the risk of suffering a heart attack is greatly increased.

Warning: If you suffer from macular degeneration, the # 1 cause of blindness in people over 55 years old, avoid taking aspirin. Also avoid smoking. Recent research found that smoking is the leading cause of macular degeneration; half of all smokers develop it. As soon as a person stops smoking, the risk lessens by one third. A major study linked aspirin to America's epidemic of macular degeneration. The often prescribed one-aspirin-a-day routine makes the retinas more likely to hemorrhage. Beside, aspirin belongs to the same class of painkillers as Vioxx, Celebrex and Aleve, all of which were found to increase heart attack and stroke risk by over 50 percent.

Tests have shown that abstaining from food for a periodic length of time reduces the size and amount of both fat cells and collagen fiber deposits. This also demonstrates that overeating protein does, in fact, increase protein tissue in the body. As explained before, and to emphasize this crucial point, the protein deposits accumulate in the basal membranes of the capillary walls and the connective tissues that surround the cells. As a direct consequence of this development, the thickened blood vessel walls are no longer capable of absorbing sufficient amounts of oxygen, water, and nutrients, and since they can not remove all the metabolic waste products that the cells produce.

Therefore, the cells that make up these blood vessels become orphaned and ultimately die from malnutrition, suffocation and dehydration. In a young person, the main blood vessels of the heart have a diameter of about 3mm. By regularly overeating protein foods, the typically smooth and polished inner wall of a blood vessel becomes uneven, and the blood vessel as a whole thickens and loses its elasticity. This leads to a deterioration of blood flow through the circulatory system and may culminate in a complete blockage. Coronary arteries that are totally blocked earthquake old rusty, calcified water pipes. Their walls are brownish-red and are clogged with yellowish, calcified material.

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