High blood cholesterol promotes the narrowing and hardening of your arteries — a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis progresses slowly and often without early symptoms, but it can lead to a variety of complications, including heart attack and stroke.
Excess low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol can slowly build up in the walls of your arteries. It then combines with triglycerides — a form of fat in the blood — and other deposits such as calcium, cellular waste products and a fibrous, insoluble protein called fibrin to form plaques. These plaques can cause your arteries to narrow and harden.
Complications of atherosclerosis include:
The best way to manage your cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Avoid or limit risk factors by not smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting enough physical activity.
Also have your cholesterol checked regularly. Some people with atherosclerosis have no signs or symptoms, so their first indication is a heart attack or stroke.
If you already have high cholesterol or atherosclerosis or both, certain medications and medical procedures can treat these conditions. Talk with your doctor about possible risk factors and treatment options.
Sept. 03, 2015