Your blood stream may contain two types of cholesterol: HDL (good cholesterol), and LDL (bad cholesterol). Generally, high cholesterol refers to the LDL or bad cholesterol.
If you have high cholesterol, it may build up and form fatty deposits in the inner wall of your blood vessels. This build-up, also known as plaque, may cause your arteries to thicken and harden, restricting blood flow and depriving your heart and brain of much needed oxygen that your blood also carries.
Constant high levels of cholesterol increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.
Signs and SymptomsThere are no signs and symptoms of high cholesterol. Most people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are too high, while others only learn of it after they suffer from a stroke or heart attack. Often, high cholesterol is detected during regular physical examinations when a blood test is performed or when one seeks consultation for other diseases and a high cholesterol level is incidentally discovered. The only way for you to check and determine your actual cholesterol level is through a blood test.
Causes of high cholesterolHigh cholesterol is usually a result of factors that are within your control such as lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet and obesity or excess weight. Other factors such as your genes, smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes, may increase your chances of having high cholesterol.
While your genes or family history may predispose you to having a high cholesterol level, adjustments to your diet and lifestyle may prevent the accumulation or reduce the level of bad cholesterol in your blood stream.