When the cholesterol intake is more, some of the extra cholesterol in the blood returns to the liver where it is broken down and then secreted as bile by the gall bladder. But when cholesterol levels rise too high, they can lead to fatty deposits called PLAQUE, which clog arteries and thus set the stage for heart diseases and strokes. Just a small clot in a plaque clogged coronary artery is enough to arrest blood flow to the heart and thereby cause a heart attack. Recently a lot of interest has been generated in trying not only to retard the progression but also attempt to regress and even reverse the atherosclerotic process.

Current research is focussed mainly on the atherosis reversion and the sclerotic components has received less attention.

The atheromatous plaque is constituted mainly (60% of dry weight) by cholesterol, cholesterol esters and phospholipids. The bulk of lesion cholesterol (except for crystalline cholesterol monohydrate and cholesterol trapped by altered connective tissue) exchanges with plasma cholesterol.

Therefore, if plasma cholesterol levels are lowered, reduction of plaque cholesterol should occur and the lesion should regress. However, total regression of atheromatous plaque is not possible because cholesterol monohydrate crystal is resistant to mobilization. The fibrous cap of the plaque and abundant fibrous stroma constitute additional physical barriers for the egress of the extra cellular cholesterol.

The regression of early uncomplicated plaques will be easier than regression of advanced and complicated lesion, thus emphasizing the need for early intervention. The elevated serum cholesterol is the strongest risk factor for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).

Serum cholesterol levels correlate well with presence and severity of CAD in Indians. Population studies have shown that lowering blood cholesterol levels reduces the risk of heart attack. Further studies have shown that atherosclerosis may be prevented from getting worse—and sometimes even reversed, if cholesterol is lowered very well.
Last 5 posts in Know Your Heart
Popularity: 22%
Filed under: Know Your Heart