High Cholesterol Symptoms
There are no early symptoms of high cholesterol. In fact, many people are unaware that they have the condition. However, serious problems can occur as a result of high cholesterol, and symptoms often take many years to develop. For example, high cholesterol levels can result in plaque buildup, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems.
High cholesterol itself does not cause high cholesterol symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. What high cholesterol does do is increase your risk for developing certain medical conditions, including heart disease or having a heart attack (see Effects of High Cholesterol).
High cholesterol levels in the blood do not cause problems over days or weeks or even months; they cause problems over many years.
If your levels of cholesterol are too high, LDLs (low denisty lipoproteins) will leave extra cholesterol in the blood. If the HDLs (high density lipoproteins) 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 is called plaque. Over time, plaque can narrow the blood vessels; sometimes, this buildup may even block your blood vessels completely. Plaque buildup on your blood vessel walls is called atherosclerosis.
Nobody knows why this buildup happens, but a narrowed or blocked blood vessel can prevent blood from getting to where it needs to go. Without blood, tissues will die.
For example, if the blocked vessel is in your brain, it can cause a stroke. Blockages can also occur in the blood vessels (called the coronary arteries) that carry blood to the heart muscle. This blockage process is called coronary heart disease, and it can result in a heart attack.
Atherosclerosis can affect all of your organ systems; however, the organ most seriously affected by both high cholesterol and atherosclerosis is the heart.
The good news from recent studies is that the progress of atherosclerosis may be stopped by lowering cholesterol. In some cases, it may even be reversed.