Know Your Definitions

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that stores energy in the body, provides support to the walls of each cell and starts chemical reactions in the body. Also, cholesterol provides structure to certain hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol, which protects against inflammation. It’s produced in the liver and other cells, but also found in a person’s diet – such as meat, dairy and eggs. Saturated fats – fats that are “saturated” with hydrogen – raise cholesterol.  Unsaturated fats lower the cholesterol. Trans fats, typically used in fast foods, are fats that start out as liquid fats but hydrogen is added to make them last longer and possibly taste better.

Familial hypercholesterolemiais a common inherited genetic disorder of high lipids caused by a defect in a person’s DNA, specifically on chromosome 19. The disorder causes high levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood because the body is unable to remove it.  Familial hypercholesterolemia increases the risk of early cardiovascular disease often at young age. A physical examination may show cholesterol deposits in the knuckles or Achilles tendons.  There may also be cholesterol deposits around the eyes and eyelids, or a pale ring around the iris of the eye, but these signs may be found with other diseases. Treatment include dietary changes and the use of medications and other therapeutic intervention to lower cholesterol.

Blood Pressure is the amount of pressure of blood in the walls of the arteries. It’s a primary vital sign that is recorded by two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Systolic, the top number and the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats/contracts. Diastolic, the bottom number and lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats, when the heart muscle is refilling with blood. Per the American Heart Association, 120/80 mm HG is optimal.

Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque – a  waxy substance comprised of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in the blood- forms in the arteries. It can lead to serious problems like heart attack and stroke.

Coronary artery disease happens when plaque builds up inside the arteries that carry blood to the heart, also known as the coronary arteries. This heart disease is the number one cause of death in men and women in the United States.

Angina – chest pain

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts, causing part of the brain to go without necessary blood and oxygen. As a result, brain cells die. Warning signs of a stroke include drooping face, arm weakness, speech difficulty, trouble seeing, dizziness, loss of balance and severe headache.

The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs. An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when part of the aorta becomes enlarged.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is the constriction of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head.

A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is a “minor stroke” that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a short time. The symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke, but usually last only a few minutes. TIAs preceded strokes 15 percent of the time.

Type 1 diabetes, (T1D) can occur at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed from infancy to late 30s. When a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, their pancreas produces little to no insulin, and the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. As a consequence, patients with type 1 diabetes need to administer insulin for the rest of their lives. Many patients develop type 1 diabetes at a young age.

In Type 2 diabetes blood sugar levels are high either because the body does not use insulin properly (insulin resistance), or because the body does not make enough insulin.

Calculate whether your LDL cholesterol level puts you at risk for heart disease, and learn what you need to do for a healthier heart.




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Clinical Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
Symptomatic Carotid Artery Disease (CAD)
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)
Diabetes Mellitus
Chronic Kidney Disease