Do you have high cholesterol? It’s a silent health risk that can be deadly. Too much cholesterol in the blood, or high cholesterol, can be serious. But the effects of high cholesterol do not occur after days, weeks, or even months of high cholesterol. High cholesterol levels cause problems over many years. The effects of high cholesterol are due to a condition called atherosclerosis, which is narrowing and hardening of arteries. If your levels of cholesterol are too high, LDLs will leave extra cholesterol in the blood. If the 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 of cholesterol is called plaque. Over time, plaque can cause narrowing of the arteries. This plaque buildup is called atherosclerosis.
Deposits of cholesterol can bring about atherosclerosis, the thickening and hardening of the arteries caused by plaque buildup. In coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries (the vessels that supply blood to the heart) decreases the blood and oxygen supply to the cardiac muscle. The shortage of blood and oxygen can cause angina and often results in irreversible damage to cardiac tissues that, if left untreated, may lead to a fatal heart attack.
Specific Effects of High Cholesterol
Because atherosclerosis can affect any blood vessel in the body, the effects of high cholesterol due to atherosclerosis include:
- Coronary heart disease. Special arteries, called coronary arteries, bring blood to the heart. Narrowing of your coronary arteries due to plaque can stop or slow down the flow of blood to your heart. When the arteries narrow, the amount of oxygen-rich blood is decreased.
- Angina. Large plaque areas can lead to chest pain called angina. Angina occurs when the heart does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood. Angina is a common symptom of coronary artery disease.
- Heart arrhythmias — an irregular heart rhythm * Heart Attack. Some plaque has a thin covering and bursts, releasing fat and cholesterol into the bloodstream. This release of fat and cholesterol may cause your blood to clot, which can block the flow of blood. This blockage can cause angina or a heart attack * Transient ischemic attack (TIA, or “mini” stroke)
- Peripheral artery disease * High blood pressure.
The effects of high cholesterol will depend on whether the atherosclerosis partially or completely blocks the artery. Atherosclerosis most commonly affects the arteries in the heart in people with high cholesterol.
Effects of High Cholesterol: Summary
Nobody knows why plaque 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. Lowering your cholesterol can reduce your chances of experiencing life-threatening effects associated with high cholesterol.
There are no symptoms of high cholesterol. But if you have high cholesterol and other disease risk factors, there can be serious health complications
High cholesterol has a lot of life threatening effects on the body. It does not develop overnight but stretches over a period of many years. It generally happens due to a medical condition known as atherosclerosis. This condition is related to the loss of flexibility and narrowing of the arteries. The effects of atherosclerosis are coronary heart disease, heart stroke, heart attack and angina. The only way to avoid these health risks is by reducing the level of blood cholesterol.