Signs and Symptoms of High Cholesterol
While there are no apparent high cholesterol signs and symptoms, too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to plaque buildup on artery walls. This buildup, known as atherosclerosis, can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Without any indications to watch for, the only way to know if your cholesterol is too high is to be tested regularly.
Too much cholesterol in the blood does not cause noticeable high cholesterol signs and symptoms, so many people are unaware that their level is too high. High cholesterol increases your risk of 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 a short time. It usually takes many years for high levels to cause problems.
If your cholesterol level is too high, low density lipoproteins (LDLs) will leave extra cholesterol in the blood. If the high density lipoproteins (HDLs) cannot pick up all of this cholesterol, it will build up on your artery walls, along with other fats and debris. This buildup is known as 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.
It is not known why such a buildup occurs, but a narrowed or blocked blood vessel can prevent blood from getting to where it needs to go. Without blood, tissues will die.
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.
According to the findings of recent studies, the progress of atherosclerosis may be stopped by lowering cholesterol. In some cases, it may even be reversed.