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What Is the Pathophysiology of Hypercholesterolemia?

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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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The term pathophysiology of hypercholesterolemia may seem intimidating. It is, however, a vital concept that relates to everyone's health Basically, the pathophysiology of hypercholesterolemia refers to the scientific-based actions of high cholesterol.

The pathophysiology of hypercholesterolemia is concerned with the causes and potential implications of having high cholesterol. The words pathophysiology of hypercholesterolemia can be broken down to gain insight into their meaning. Patho means disease causing, and physiology refers to the systems of the body. The prefix hyper describes an elevated level, and cholesterolemia means cholesterol, more specifically in the blood. When all of these things are put together, this long phrase is simplified into the abnormal state of elevated cholesterol levels in the blood.

Cholesterol is kind of like taxes; most people think it is bad all of the time without realizing that it can also be good. Without cholesterol, for example, many cells of the body could not structurally survive. Like any good thing, too much is sometimes bad. When cholesterol is present in overabundant amounts, the body's systems can begin to react negatively.

High cholesterol is typically feared but not understood. There is good high cholesterol, for instance, known as high-density cholesterol, or HDL. Low-density cholesterol, deemed LDL, is the bad kind. This treacherous physiological beast can form hard collections in the vascular structures in the body, acting to clog veins and arteries.

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Not only do these buildups obstruct blood flow, but they pose a potential risk for even more problems as well. They can harden blood vessels or break away from vessel walls and lodge themselves in places far from their original locations. Sometimes these buildups, called plagues, can completely clog a vein or artery, causing a stroke or heart attack in the process. Regardless of how plaques manifest themselves, the end result is bad news.

The pathophysiology of hypercholesterolemia is important because it can help scientists gain insight into the causes and treatments of high cholesterol as well as the mechanism cholesterol uses to harm the body. Without this important field of study, many sufferers living normal lives would otherwise be limited by their disease. While a lifestyle of poor health is usually to blame, there are some cases of genetic cause that discriminate against the unfortunate. Hypercholesterolemia is a bad thing, and the more people know about harnessing this monster, the better.

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