It has been known for a long time that cholesterol is a primary offender in heart disease, which is an umbrella word for illnesses that damage the cardiovascular and blood arteries. However, cholesterol is not the only risk factor for cardiovascular disease; blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and inflammation all have a role.

What are inflammatory responses and cholesterol, and how do they affect cardiovascular health? Learn more about the link between inflammation, cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease below.

Inflammation And Cholesterol: What Are They?

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a lipid, waxy substance made by the liver. Foods contain cholesterol too. There are two primary categories of cholesterol.

  • Low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol
  • High-density lipoprotein, sometimes known as “good” cholesterol

There are several critical roles cholesterol performs in the blood, including hormone production and the breakdown of fatty foods that contribute to a healthy life.

However, it’s important to note that having high cholesterol levels isn’t always ideal. Cardiovascular disorders like heart attack and stroke become more likely when LDL and HDL cholesterol levels are high.

What is inflammation?

When your body detects an invader, such as bacteria or a virus, it triggers the inflammatory response. Inflammation aids the body in its battle against bacteria and promotes recovery after an injury or infection. An inflammatory reaction can also be triggered by accumulating cholesterol and other chemicals in the arteries, known medically as plaques or atherosclerosis.

A person’s inflammatory response occurs when the body’s immune system releases a swarm of white blood cells and substances to repair or prevent further infection or damage. Therefore, inflammation

Inflammation can be beneficial in the short term, but chronic low-level inflammation can damage blood vessel walls. They can increase plaque growth in your arteries, thus causing heart attack or stroke.

How to Measure the Inflammation and Cholesterol Levels

How to measure cholesterol level

A healthcare physician will order a lipoprotein panel (sometimes called a lipid panel) blood test to determine cholesterol levels. The test requires a 9-12-hour fasting period before administration.

This test helps measure high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and non-HDL. It also measures triglycerides, another blood fat that raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.

Here are some suggestions as to when the test should be administered:

  • It would help if you started getting the test after every five years at around the age of 10 or so.
  • Tests should be administered once every 1-2 years to men and women aged 45 – 65 and 55- 65, respectively.
  • Regular screenings should be administered to those with heart disease or a history of high cholesterol in their family and those with other risk factors.

How to Measure Inflammation

Even though inflammation plays a significant part in atherosclerosis, cholesterol still plays a crucial role in the disease. Keeping the HDL cholesterol level above the LDL cholesterol level is still recommended.

Image alt text: inflammation and cholesterol. A cross-sectional diagram of an inflamed heart.

Author credit: By Internet Archive Book Images – book page:, No restrictions,

However, the correlation between inflammation and cardiovascular illness offers yet another indicator of impending heart problems. Consider the following information regarding the assessment of inflammation.

  • C – reactive protein (CRP)

Inflammation triggers the release of CRP from liver cells. There is some evidence that CRP is a more accurate predictor of future cardiac problems than cholesterol is.

Also, the C-reactive protein has been proposed as a potential biomarker of atherosclerosis. Researchers have found that C-reactive protein can be used as a predictor of cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory disorders.

  • CPR Test

The high-sensitivity C-reactive protein assay (hsCRP) was given the green light by the FDA in 1998 to assess cardiovascular disease risk.

The procedure eventually became as regular as the lipoprotein panel. And now, the test, which involves a relatively easy blood workup, is even used by some doctors as a routine part of annual checkups. There is still debate on how significant CRP is.

Whether the C-reactive protein test is, only a signal or whether the increased levels truly trigger stroke or heart attack is one of the issues and disputes surrounding CRP as a cardiovascular disease risk factor. According to some studies, it’s ambiguous and quite challenging to tease out.

When total cholesterol rises above a healthy range, the excess LDL cholesterol in the blood finds its way into the inner wall of the arteries, where it causes inflammation. When triggered, this response hastens the buildup of cholesterol in the arterial wall.

So, inflammation increases as a result. The cycle continues until the accumulated cholesterol becomes a plaque. Blood clots caused by plaque rupture can cause cardiovascular problems like strokes and heart attacks.

Also, emerging evidence suggests that inflammation significantly contributes to cardiovascular disease. Therefore, reducing systemic inflammation is the key to avoiding chronic illnesses like heart disease.

There is no harm in cholesterol by itself. However, when inflammation is present, the issue becomes more complicated. The free radicals produced by inflammation are harmful to lipids like cholesterol. This triggers your immune system and sets off a chain reaction that leads to the development of atherosclerotic plaques within the arteries.

Heart attacks and thrombosis can result from plaque rupture, which is more likely when inflammation is unchecked (a blood clot). Strokes and lung obstructions are possible outcomes of plaque rupture (pulmonary embolism). Also, peripheral arterial disease happens when plaque forms in arteries outside the heart. In men, this can lead to impotence and other problems.

Therefore, it is crucial to understand chronic inflammation’s role in developing cardiovascular disease. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis is an example of a chronic inflammatory autoimmune illness associated with a greatly higher risk of death from heart disease.

How to Reduce Inflammation and Cholesterol Levels

To ensure a healthy lifestyle, free of heart complications, you must strive to manage your body’s inflammation and cholesterols:

Lifestyle changes

Avoiding triggers for your body’s inflammatory reaction is crucial in controlling inflammation. Furthermore, the same lifestyle changes also reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes.

Here’s what to do:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight

Carrying extra weight raises your chances of developing a variety of illnesses. However, excess fat in the midsection is a warning sign of cardiovascular disease. Visceral fat, the kind that builds up inside the abdominal cavity, releases a pro-inflammatory chemical.

Also, gaining weight is associated with a rise in inflammation. A study discovered that when people gained weight, their C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, a crucial inflammatory indicator in the blood, also increased. Changes in hormones and metabolism may initiate this inflammation, which persists until the excess weight is eliminated.

If you’re carrying around extra pounds, your body is inflamed to some degree, which can lead to a heightened state of irritation and tension and potentially increase your risk for cardiovascular difficulties.

During stress, the body prioritizes essential functions like breathing and heart rate, overeating, and losing weight. Therefore, reducing inflammation irritants is crucial for weight loss, as it aids in restoring the body to healthier functioning conditions.

  • Stay Active

Physical activity decreases systemic inflammation by reducing fat mass and inflammation in adipose tissue. When you exercise, your muscles produce more of the cytokine IL-6, thus reducing the inflammatory cytokine and boosting the development of cytokines, anti-inflammatory chemicals.

In addition to lowering systemic inflammation, regular exercise training improves vagal tone via the cholinergic anti-inflammatory reflex.

  • Stop smoking

Many pro-inflammatory bacteria are produced in response to cigarette smoke, leading to increased inflammation throughout the body. Besides, non-smokers have more of the bacteria that create simple fatty acids, which reduce inflammation.

Also, smoking accelerates atherosclerosis because of the harm it does to blood vessels. Fortunately, your chances of developing heart disease are reduced by half if you quit smoking.

  • Correct diet

So, the food you eat can have either a beneficial or detrimental effect on your body. Consequently, you should follow a heart-healthy diet, such as a restricted-calorie or Mediterranean diet, to help reduce inflammation and, thus, fewer heart complications.


It has been demonstrated that statins and other drugs like colchicine can reduce inflammation and inflammatory indicators like CRP levels.


When calculating the potential for heart disease, cholesterol is frequently considered the primary culprit. Some data also suggest that inflammatory markers can be used to assess cardiac health.

Talk to your doctor about making lifestyle adjustments to lower your risk of heart disease if you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol or inflammation. Some potential solutions to leading a heart-healthy life include reducing tobacco use, increasing physical activity, adopting a diet similar to the Mediterranean, and maintaining a healthy weight.