Why is high cholesterol bad for your heart?

Why is cholesterol bad for me? 

It is a common misconception that cholesterol is some “evil” substance; actually, what’s bad is too much or the wrong kind of cholesterol in the blood. Your body already makes all you need; you do not need to take in extra cholesterol. In fact, in people with normal levels of blood cholesterol, cholesterol taken into the body from food up to a certain level just tells the liver to produce a little less. But other food components, like saturated fat, seem to cause the liver to make more cholesterol in most people.
Too much cholesterol can lead to arterial clogging atherosclerosis, the condition underlying coronary heart disease. Studies have shown that the higher the total blood cholesterol, the more likely an individual is to develop heart disease. For every 1 percent decrease in the total blood cholesterol of an individual, there is a 2 to 3 percent decrease in heart disease. The higher the blood cholesterol levels in a region or country, the higher the risk of dying of heart disease for residents of that area. This was shown in The Seven Countries Study by Dr. Ancel Keys, a classic study published in the 1980s. A graphic representation of this link between blood cholesterol and heart disease is shown in Figure 3-1.


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