High cholesterol means presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood – which can lead to other diseases and health complications. Also known as hypercholesterolemia, high cholesterol levels are the main risk factors for many heart and cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
The liver produces cholesterol, a waxy type of fat that’s essential to produce specific hormones and vitamin D and required for proper digestion. High cholesterol can give rise to heart disease and other metabolic diseases.
Cholesterol can be of good and bad types. Bad cholesterol or LDL – Also referred to as “bad” cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol builds up in blood vessels and narrows and hardens them, causing high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular complications.
The very low-density (VLDL) cholesterol is another form of LDL. It carries triglycerides throughout the body – another kind of lipid that can cause heart and blood vessels diseases when elevated.
Often referred to as “good” cholesterol, HDL helps your body remove cholesterol from your tissues by transporting it to your liver.
Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) is essentially the presence of too little HDL cholesterol relative to LDL cholesterol.
1Signs and Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol generally does not cause overt symptoms. It is more likely that you experience symptoms as a result of conditions or complications caused by it. High cholesterol is not something you can feel.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the consequences of high cholesterol. Symptoms of high blood pressure include headaches, muscle spasms of the neck and shoulders, fatigue, vision problems, chest pain, dizziness, and irregular heartbeats.
Excessive cholesterol may cause a skin condition called xanthoma – only in rare cases. These waxy collections of cholesterol are found underneath the skin, especially on the knees, hands, and elbows. A genetic condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia is most likely to cause xanthomas.
In the absence of apparent signs and symptoms, only a blood test can tell you whether you have high cholesterol.