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The heart essential for survival, tirelessly beating and
pumping blood to every cell in the body. When tissues cannot be provided with
the oxygen and nutrients transported by blood, they are no longer able to
function. “Cardiovascular disease — pathologies of the heart, blood
vessels and the vascular system of the brain — claims more lives than anything
else, accounting for nearly one-third of deaths worldwide” (Cannon).

Some individuals are at higher risk for developing heart
disease based on their uncontrollable risk factors. As age increases, so does
the risk of heart disease, and men are generally at higher risk. Family history
and genetics can also increase the risk. But just because a person has these
risk factors it doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to be diagnosed with heart
disease at some point in their life. Small tweaks in a person’s lifestyle can
significantly lower their risk. By eating healthy foods, exercising and
maintaining a healthy weight can control risk factors such as blood pressure,
and cholesterol (Heart and Stroke).

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Cholesterol
is one of the several lipids that circulate through the blood stream. The waxy
substance is manufactured by the liver, and it has many functions for the body,
including being a building block of the cell membrane. However, cholesterol
levels become a risk factors for CVD when too much of it enters the body
through foods derived from animals (Giancoli). As cholesterol is a major component
of plaque, it can collect on the blood vessel walls, constricting blood flow
and eventually leading to a heart attack or stroke (Lipsky, Mendelson, havas,
and Miller 23).

The process
of plaque building up on the artery walls is called atherosclerosis, and cases
have shown that it is responsible for almost all cases of coronary heart
disease (Cannon). There are two main types of cholesterol: High density lipoprotein
is generally known as the `good cholesterol`, and it carries cholesterol that
is not needed to the liver where it can be passed out of the body. Low density
lipoprotein is the `bad cholesterol`, and it can easily collect on the blood
vessel walls. Foods such as red meat, fatty dairy products and processed foods
are high in cholesterol and saturated fats, and can raise total cholesterol
levels (McDermott).  Along with unhealthy
diet, obesity, lack of exercise are also risk factors for high cholesterol
levels because they elevate LDL and decrease HDL levels (Jackson, Barnes and
Douglas).

 

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