• The Heart House

High Cholesterol

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that looks like smashed wax. It is present mainly in animal fats. You find it mainly in the fat marble between the meat strips in a steak.

What is the use of Cholesterol?

The body uses cholesterol to build cell membranes. It is also used in small quantities to build certain hormones such as steriod and sex hormones.


What are the sources of Cholesterol?

Cholesterol in your blood comes from 2 main sources: the major source of cholesterol comes from what your body produces, and the second comes from what you eat. So, even if you don't eat any cholesterol, your body will still have cholesterol.

Do I need to eat foods with Cholesterol?

Even if you don't eat cholesterol, your body is making cholesterol to build cells and make certain hormones that cholesterol is needed for.

Can you be deficient in Cholesterol?

There has been no documentation in the history of medicine that someone has a deficiency in cholesterol, because the body makes cholesterol.

How much Cholesterol is safe to eat without getting high cholesterol?

You should not take more than 300 mg of Cholesterol per day, which is equivalent to the amount of cholesterol present in one egg yolk. We are not talking about how much cholesterol you SHOULD take in a day, we are talking about how much cholesterol you SHOULD NOT EXCEED per day. The lower, the better.

Why is High Cholesterol bad?

High cholesterol is bad because it tends to get stuck to walls of your arteries. Your arteries need to be open so the blood will flow through them. One of those arteries is the main arteries that supply blood to the hard-working muscles of your heart itself (Coronary Arteries). As cholesterol accumulates in the walls of these arteries it builds up slowly, slowly, slowly, making the blood flow less, and less, and less. If the cholesterol level becomes very high and blocks the arteries, the blood will not be able to go through, the heart muscle will not get enough blood, and you may have a heart attack.

How long does it take Cholesterol to do this?

Cholesterol starts its damaging effects very early in childhood. The worse the eating habits are of the individual, the earlier cholesterol starts its damaging effects. It takes cholesterol YEARS to cause damage. That is why it is called the "silent killer." However, we are seeing more young people in their mid 30's and early 40's who are having heart attacks. Unfortunately most people at this age have young children to take care of and they are in the most-needed part of their life for their families.

Look at this picture of the heart below and see that the Left Ventricle (LV) is the main pumping muscle of the heart. This muscle has to squeeze and work hard to push the blood through the Aorta (AAO) and to the entire body. The first 2 branches that come out of the Aorta supply the heart itself with blood. One branch is called the Left Coronary Artery which supplies mainly the left heart. The other branch the Right Coronary Artery which supplies mainly the right side of the heart.



Look closely at the pictures of the heart and notice that the muscle of the heart has a lot of flesh on it. In order for this muscle to work efficiently it needs fresh blood with oxygen and body nutrients.


The Heart Muscle is Like Your Leg Muscle

If you are running you need blood to be getting to your leg muscle so it can have oxygen and glucose (sugar) to it so it can keep going. The heart however differs from every other muscle because it keeps working all of the time.

Imagine that the cholesterol is getting higher and higher, blocking the arteries going to your heart. When this happens the muscle of the heart will not get enough blood and it will not function right. The building of cholesterol continues slowly over time and it makes the artery very narrow. Sometimes a clot comes from your body and closes that artery completely. When this happens no blood will be going to the muscle of the heart. The muscle of the heart will start to die and this is what we call a heart attack.

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Children's Heart Institute

P. O. Box 10066 McLean, VA 22102

Central Registration (patient appointments):

phone - 703-481-5801

Billing Inquiries:

phone - 571-612-2600 /  fax - 571-266-4096