The ankle/brachial index is one way your doctor can diagnose plaque buildup in arteries or other vascular diseases. The test is done by measuring your blood pressure at the ankle and in the arm and dividing the systolic pressure in the ankle by the systolic pressure in the arm.
Artery or arteries
Arteries are relatively thick-walled blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. They play a major role in the function of the cardiovascular system. Watch "Section of an Artery Showing the Lumen" Video
Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arteries caused by progressive plaque buildup in the arteries. Bad (LDL) cholesterol along with other health factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of early heart disease, age, obesity, and smoking can all play a role in the formation of plaque. This plaque can start building up in arteries in early adulthood and gets worse over time. This plaque buildup over time can lead to narrowing of the arteries. Watch "Plaque Buildup" Video
Body mass index (BMI)
BMI is an estimation of body fat based on height and weight. According to guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, a normal BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
Pronounced “brew-ees,” bruits are the faint whooshing noises caused by the turbulence of blood rushing through restricted arteries. This is a common way for your doctor to look for signs of plaque buildup.
A calorie is a measure of energy that you get from the food you eat. A calorie from food is sometimes called a kilocalorie. There aren't different types of calories—the energy you get from one calorie in a piece of lettuce is the same as the energy you get from one calorie in a piece of meat.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance, also called a lipid, that's produced by the liver and found in your bloodstream. It's also found in foods high in saturated fat, like fatty meats, egg yolks, shellfish, and whole-milk dairy products. Cholesterol is also a vital part of the structure and functioning of our cells.
Clinical trials are research studies conducted to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of medications. In a typical clinical trial, groups of patients are asked to take a certain medication. This may be a specific dose of an existing medication, a dose of a new medication, or a placebo (sugar pill). Researchers then gather data over time and analyze the results.
Diabetes is a disease in which either the body does not produce enough insulin or the body's cells do not effectively use the insulin produced. This causes above-normal blood sugar levels. Diabetes is a serious condition that can cause complications ranging from numbness to loss of vision to coma. It is also a major cause of heart disease and stroke. About 25.8 million Americans have diabetes.
Dietary (soluble) fiber
A type of fiber that is important to your health. It slows digestion and extends the feeling of fullness, and can also lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol. This fiber can be found in certain foods, such as peas, beans, and apples.
ECLIPSE was a 24-week clinical trial involving 1,036 high-risk patients who had high cholesterol at the beginning of the trial. Patients were given one of the following statin medications: CRESTOR® (rosuvastatin calcium) or Lipitor® (atorvastatin calcium). The researchers then compared the percentage of patients achieving bad (LDL) cholesterol goal at different dosages and time points (6, 12, 18, 24 weeks) between the two medicines. At each time point and dose comparison, significantly more high-risk patients taking CRESTOR achieved the guideline recommended goal of <100 mg/dL for bad (LDL) cholesterol versus Lipitor. The most common adverse events were muscle aches and pains, chest pains, and inflammation of the nose and throat.
Fasting lipid profile
Also known as a cholesterol test, this is used to determine your levels of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. You will be asked to fast before you have a test to measure your blood cholesterol level. This means you have nothing to eat or drink—except for water—for 9 to 12 hours before the test. Watch "LDL-C" Video
A class of energy-rich food that comes from a substance found mainly in animal tissue and certain plants. There are 9 calories in each gram of fat—more than twice the calories in protein or carbohydrates.
A measure of weight in the metric system. Approximately 28 grams make 1 ounce.
High blood pressure
When the pressure at which blood is pumped through the arteries by the heart is above an average range, it is called high blood pressure, or hypertension. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers—the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes).
High blood sugar
An excessive amount of sugar in the blood, also known as hyperglycemia, is a sign of diabetes.
“HDL-C” stands for high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is a lipoprotein that helps return cholesterol to the liver, where it can be eliminated from the body. As a rule, you want your HDL cholesterol high. Watch "HDL-C" Video
“LDL-C” stands for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. LDL is a lipoprotein that carries cholesterol throughout the bloodstream as LDL cholesterol, or LDL-C. If you have too much LDL-C circulating in your bloodstream, it can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. That's why it's so important to talk to your doctor. As a rule, you want to keep your LDL-C low.
An unsaturated fat found primarily in plant-based foods such as olive and canola oils. Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Eating more monounsaturated fats (instead of saturated fats such as butter and lard) can help lower cholesterol.
National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP)
Launched in 1985 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, the NCEP works to reduce the incidence of high cholesterol and related health conditions in the US by establishing guidelines and recommendations on cholesterol management and promoting them to health care professionals, patients, and the general public.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The federal government's centralized source for health information and research.
Obese or obesity
Excessive fat in body tissues. Obesity increases the danger of developing many health conditions, including diabetes and certain heart problems. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines being obese as having a BMI of 30 or greater.
Omega-3 fatty acids
A substance found in fish oil and some plants that may be helpful in reducing high triglycerides.
Weighing more than what is healthy for your age and size. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines overweight as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9.
Plaque is the fatty deposits and other cells that can build up in the walls of your arteries. One major cause is high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol. Other health factors, such as a family history of early heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, and being obese, can also play a role. Watch "Plaque Buildup" Video
An unsaturated fat found primarily in plant-based foods such as corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oils. Polyunsaturated fats are liquid or soft at room temperature. Eating more polyunsaturated fats (instead of saturated fats such as butter and lard) can lower cholesterol.
Protein is composed of a chain of amino acids. Our muscles, organs, and glands are largely made of protein. Our bodies can produce 13 of the 20 or so amino acids we need to make proteins, but the other amino acids (about 9) can only be found in food. There are 4 calories in each gram of protein.
Saturated fats are usually found in animal products, including fatty meat and dairy products, and are usually solid at room temperature. However, they are also found in some vegetable oils, including coconut and palm oils.
Secondary effects of a drug or therapy (as opposed to the main therapeutic effect) that are undesirable. The most common side effects of CRESTOR are headache, muscle aches, abdominal pain, weakness, and nausea.
Stanols and sterols
Stanols and sterols are chemicals present in certain plants that have been shown to help reduce high cholesterol. They may be found as ingredients in certain margarines and salad dressings that claim to lower cholesterol.
Statins are a type of drug used to reduce levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. Statins block a substance (an enzyme) in the liver, causing the liver to make less cholesterol. Statins may also help the liver absorb and breakdown cholesterol already in the blood.
STELLAR was a 6-week clinical trial involving 2,240 patients who had high cholesterol at the beginning of the trial. Patients were given different dosages of one of the following statin medications: CRESTOR® (rosuvastatin calcium), Lipitor® (atorvastatin calcium), Zocor® (simvastatin), and Pravachol® (pravastatin sodium). The researchers then compared the changes in the patients' LDL-C between the different drugs and dosages. In the STELLAR trial, the occurrence of adverse events was similar between treatment groups. The most common adverse events were pain, sore throat, muscle ache, and headache.
Triglycerides are another fat produced by the liver and also found in food. Like high cholesterol, they can be dangerous to your health. As a rule, you want to keep your triglycerides low.
Unsaturated fat is found primarily in plant-based foods and is usually liquid at room temperature. Eating more unsaturated fat (instead of saturated fat such as butter and lard) can help lower cholesterol. There are two main types of unsaturated fat: monounsaturated (such as olive and canola oils) and polyunsaturated (such as corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oils).