Why Your Heart Wants You to Pay Attention to Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol can be a tricky thing to understand, especially when you’re not exactly sure what your levels mean and how they can affect the various aspects of your body – including your heart.

So, what is cholesterol? What does it have to do with heart disease? Simply put, cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your blood. It is essential to certain cell functions in your body, such as digesting foods, producing hormones, converting vitamin D in the skin and creating new cells. Your liver makes cholesterol for your body, but you also get cholesterol from eating certain foods, such as meat, poultry and full-fat dairy. Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream in "packages" called lipoproteins. There are two kinds:

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), also known as "bad" cholesterol, join with other substances to form a thick, hard deposit, called plaque on the walls of your arteries.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDLs), also known as "good" cholesterol, remove cholesterol from the bloodstream and the artery walls.

If the total amount of cholesterol in your blood is too high, more plaque builds up over time, eventually limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. This can cause coronary heart disease (CHD) to develop, which can lead to even more serious health issues, like blood clots, heart attack or a stroke.

Most of the time, you can control your cholesterol levels through a healthy diet and lifestyle, which will lower your risk of cardiovascular health issues. For a small percentage of people, however, high cholesterol is sometimes caused by genetically inherited cholesterol-related disorders that cannot be controlled with diet or other lifestyle changes. That’s why it’s so important to know your numbers and monitor them on an ongoing basis.

Talk to your doctor about what HDL and LDL levels are healthy, and what can be done to lower risks. Routine blood tests can show your cholesterol levels . To learn about what other factors may be affecting your risk for cardiovascular disease, take our free heart health assessment.

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Why Choose Us?

Our physicians and providers are proud to be affiliated with Northwest Health, the largest health system in Northwest Arkansas. With five hospitals, Northwest Health has three accredited Chest Pain Centers - in Bentonville, Siloam Springs and Springdale.

Northwest Medical Center - Springdale was the first hospital in Northwest Arkansas to provide open-heart surgery and achieve Cycle IV Chest Pain Center Accreditation with Primary PCI through ACC Accreditation Services (American College of Cardiology). Northwest Medical Center – Bentonville also earned the same accreditation, and both hospitals maintain this accreditation today (now cycle V) to show Northwest Health's continued commitment to providing high quality care for your heart when you need it most.

Northwest Medical Center - Springdale was also among the first 50 hospitals nationwide chosen to participate in a new study to identify the best treatment for people who experience cardiogenic shock following a heart attack (also called acute myocardial infarction - cardiogenic shock, or AMI-CS). Called the National Cardiogenic Shock Initiative (NCSI), this multicenter study assessed the feasibility of whether outcomes in cardiogenic shock can be improved by using standardized best practices such as inserting a special heart pump to protect patients during percutaneous coronary interventions.

From prevention to diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, numerous services are available throughout our five-hospital network.

Our Services Include:

  • Diagnostic and imaging technology to find heart disease early, when it's most treatable
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Open-heart surgeries including coronary bypass and valve repair
  • Cardiac defibrillator andbiventricular pacemaker insertion
  • Carotid stenting
  • Venous stenting
  • Heart failure care
  • Specialized treatment for heart rhythm disorders (atrial fibrillation)
  • Cardiac rehabilitation that combines education, support and exercise therapy

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking special precautions to keep our offices and other care environments safe for every patient.

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