Cholesterol Fast Facts (Heart Health)
High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
When there is too much cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup causes “hardening of the arteries,” meaning that your arteries narrow and blood flow to the heart slows down or stops entirely. Blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if your heart doesn’t receive enough of it, you may experience chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is cut off by a complete blockage, the result is a heart attack.
High blood cholesterol itself does not cause these symptoms, so many people are unaware that they have high cholesterol. This is why it’s very important to know your cholesterol numbers. If you have high cholesterol, and you take steps to lower it, you’ll reduce your risk of developing heart disease, which in turn reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it. Cholesterol lowering is important for everyone â€” whether you’re young, old, or middle-aged, and whether you’re a man or a woman.