The Role of Cholesterol

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Dr. Ted Feldman, Medical Director of Prevention and Community Health with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, says cholesterol is an organic molecule in your body, a modification of a steroid molecule: “Cholesterol is essential for the structural integrity of all the cells in the body, so the cell membrane which contains and protects the cell from the outside world is made up structurally from cholesterol.”

He points out cholesterol helps transport fats in the body; when there is an excess of cholesterol, those deposits wind up in blood vessels and lead to atherosclerosis, or blockage, or plaque in the arteries. That can lead to heart attacks and brain strokes.

Transcript
Cholesterol all right, a lot of people sometimes say, okay I hear it, what exactly is it?, why is it important?, and then there’s that good, the bad one, I know the good one starts with the H like happy, right?, so take it away. >Well cholesterol is an organic molecule in your body, it’s a modification of a steroid molecule, and cholesterol is essential for the structural integrity of all of the cells in the body, so the cell membrane which contains and protects the cell from the outside world, is made up structurally from cholesterol, the other thing is that cholesterol helps transport fats in the body, and when there’s an excess of cholesterol those deposits wind up in blood vessels and lead to the problem that we’re trying to prevent, by treating high cholesterol which is atherosclerosis or blockage or plaque in the arteries, that can lead in the heart to heart attacks, and in the brain to strokes.> And now that you mentioned a thorough sclerosis, I think we have a 3d image and if we could take that in, doctor maybe if you could explain what’s happening here in this image, and why it’s so important to take care of it, here’s a cross-section of a blood vessel, and we can see here is the lining of the blood vessel wall called the endothelium, the red elements, in blue elements, are the circulating blood elements of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, red blood cells carry oxygen, white blood cells help fight infection, and inflammation, and platelets help the blood to clo,t and we can see here over the beginning part of the artery the development of cholesterol in yellow plaque, that begins to narrow the artery, when that artery becomes narrowed by more than 70%, people can develop problems related to angina, in which they get chest discomfort when they’re walking or active, which often leads them to come to a physician, and winds up getting a stress test, which will be abnormal leading to a heart cath and ultimately a stent, but what we try to do by lowering the cholesterol content in the blood, is reduce and stabilize this plaque, so this plaque does in rupture and cause a clot to form, and a heart attack to ensue.
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