Symptoms of High Cholesterol
Although there may be no noticeable signs and symptoms of high cholesterol, the effects of the condition can be life-threatening. Because you may not experience symptoms until years later, the only way to determine if you have the condition is with a cholesterol test. Over time, high cholesterol symptoms can lead to a narrowing of the arteries known as atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease.
An excess of cholesterol in the blood does not cause noticeable symptoms of high cholesterol. Because they do not experience any symptoms, many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. In fact, 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 days, weeks, or even months. High cholesterol causes problems over many years.
If your cholesterol levels are 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 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.
It is unknown why this 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.
For example, a blocked vessel in your brain 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.
Recent studies have proven that the progress of atherosclerosis may be stopped by lowering cholesterol. In some cases, it may even be reversed.