Do you sometimes feel pain, pressure, or discomfort in your chest? If so, you may have angina, a condition in which your heart doesn’t get enough of the oxygen-rich blood it needs.
Angina can have a variety of causes, but the most common is coronary heart disease, which occurs when a waxy substance known as plaque builds up in the arteries. Plaque can accumulate in your arteries when you have high cholesterol.
If you have chest pain related to high cholesterol and plaque buildup, you need to understand your condition and your symptoms. Your care providers here Calvary Medical Clinic, with locations in Cleveland, Humble, and Livingston, TX, share the following facts about chest pain and cholesterol.
Good cholesterol, bad cholesterol
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in all of your body’s cells. Your body uses cholesterol for various important jobs, such as manufacturing hormones and vitamin D and help you digest foods.
Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. You also get cholesterol from animal foods such as eggs, meat, and dairy products.
There are several kinds of cholesterol. The “bad” types include low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), which carries triglycerides. These are referred to as “bad” because they lead to the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
Another type of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered “good” because it helps remove cholesterol from your body.
When you have too much “bad” cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other compounds in your blood and form plaque, a sticky substance that can narrow the space in which blood can flow through your arteries. A buildup of plaque is called atherosclerosis.
Having atherosclerosis can cause chest pain because your heart doesn’t get the blood it needs.
And it can lead to a heart attack if a piece of plaque breaks off and causes a clot that blocks blood flow in a heart artery.
Treatment for chest pain
If you have chest pain related to plaque buildup, we recommend lifestyle changes that can protect your heart, such as:
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
- Losing weight if you’re overweight or obese
- Becoming physically active
- Reducing stress
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Keeping your blood sugar in check if it is elevated
- Controlling your blood pressure if it is high
Lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of having a heart attack.
We also may prescribe certain medications for chest pain, such as anticoagulants that help prevent blood clots. And for some patients, procedures such as angioplasty or bypass surgery can restore blood flow and reduce chest pain.
Know the warning signs of heart attack
Chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack. Call 911 if you feel any of the following:
- Pain, pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back
- Pain or discomfort in one or both of your arms, your back, your neck, your jaw, or your stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness
Don’t ignore any of these signs of a heart attack. Quick action could save your life.
Learn more about chest pain
If you have questions about chest pain or any other health concerns for you or your family, contact the expert team at Calvary Medical Clinic. We’re happy to help you understand what’s causing your chest pain, how to reduce your pain, and how to protect your heart. Call us for an appointment, or request a consultation using the convenient online booking tool.