Effects of High Cholesterol
The effects of high cholesterol tend to develop over the course of many years, and are primarily due to a condition called atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing and hardening of arteries. Common effects of high cholesterol due to atherosclerosis include angina, coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Lowering cholesterol is the best way to prevent or control the effects of high cholesterol in the blood.
Too much cholesterol in the blood, or high cholesterol, can be serious. But the effects of high cholesterol do not occur after days, weeks, or even months of high cholesterol. High cholesterol levels cause problems over many years.
The effects of high cholesterol are due to a condition called atherosclerosis, which is narrowing and hardening of arteries. If your levels of cholesterol are too high, LDLs will leave extra cholesterol in the blood. If the HDLs cannot pick up all of this cholesterol, it will begin to build up on your artery walls, along with other fats and debris. This buildup of cholesterol is called plaque. Over time, plaque can cause narrowing of the arteries. This plaque buildup is called atherosclerosis.
Because atherosclerosis can affect any blood vessel in the body, the effects of high cholesterol due to atherosclerosis include:
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart arrhythmias -- an irregular heart rhythm
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA, or "mini" stroke)
- Heart attack
- Peripheral artery disease
- High blood pressure.
The effects of high cholesterol will depend on whether the atherosclerosis partially or completely blocks the artery. Atherosclerosis most commonly affects the arteries in the heart in people with high cholesterol.