Effects of High Cholesterol on the Body

High cholesterol is one of the significant contributors to chronic health complications. Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in blood, with its primary function being the production of healthy blood cells and certain hormones. However, when available in excess, cholesterol is deposited on the walls of blood vessels and can lead to severe health problems, such as atherosclerosis.

Effects of High Cholesterol on the Body

Cholesterol is carried around the body by molecules called lipoproteins. High-density lipoprotein, HDL, is responsible for the movement of protein from cells to the liver where it is broken down and passed out as waste. Low-density lipoprotein distributes cholesterol to cells that need it. Having the right amount of both lipoproteins is essential in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

Read: How to Help Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol: 7 Things You Should Do Today

Low HDL levels place you at risk of accumulating excess cholesterol. Here are some effects of excess cholesterol to your body.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is a condition where blood flows at a pressure that is more than that recommended for your blood vessels. High blood pressure can lead to the rupture of blood vessels if not controlled in time, eventually causing heart attacks and strokes. When there is more cholesterol than your body cells can utilize, it is deposited on the walls of blood vessels. The cholesterol deposits effectively narrow your blood vessels. As a result, blood has to flow at a higher pressure to reach all body parts.

Heart attack

Heart attack, medically referred to as Myocardial infarction, comes about when blood flow is restricted to one or more parts of the heart. When excess cholesterol is deposited in the blood vessels, it increases the pressure at which blood flows. High blood pressure and continued depositing of cholesterol can cause the blood vessel to burst. A clot will be formed at the burst area, stopping blood flow. If the vessel supplies blood to the heart, the restricted blood flow leads to a heart attack. In some cases, part of the cholesterol deposit (plaques) breaks off the blood vessel wall blocking blood flow downstream. If this happens in the heart, you will suffer a heart attack.


Stroke is one of the worst conditions related to high cholesterol levels. The occurrence of stroke is almost similar to a heart attack. However, a stroke occurs when blood flow to certain parts of the brain is restricted. When cholesterol is highly deposited in arteries inside your brain, the flow of oxygen and nutrients is limited. 

This leads to a failure of the affected part of the brain. A condition termed as stroke. Stroke has different impacts on body parts, depending on the affected part of the brain. For instance, your mobility might be impacted if the affected part of your brain is responsible for movement.

Chest pains

Chest pains, also referred to as angina, occur when blood flow to the heart is restricted. When excess cholesterol is deposited on the wall of the coronary artery, you might feel pain as blood flows through.

How can you prevent excess cholesterol?

Although some cases of high cholesterol are hereditary, a majority are related to lifestyle choices and can be prevented. Below are ways to reduce and prevent excess cholesterol levels.

Physical exercises

Physical activity is essential in the formation of high-density lipoprotein. HDL keeps the cholesterol from building up in your blood. There are many physical activities you can engage in; these include taking a brisk walk during your lunch break. You need to engage in vigorous activities for at least 75 minutes per week (as recommended by the NHS) to maintain the right HDL levels.

Maintain a healthy diet

One of the leading causes of excessive cholesterol levels is the food you eat. You should avoid food rich in trans fats and saturated fats, as studies have shown these to raise LDL levels and lower HDL cholesterol. Saturated fats are responsible for the production of low-density proteins, LDL, which moves cholesterol back to the body cells. Soluble fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Therefore, include it in your diet.

Avoid bad lifestyle choices

Lifestyle choices such as excessive consumption of alcohol or cigarette smoking place you at risk of spiked cholesterol levels. Cigarette smoking limits the production of high-density lipoprotein. As a result, your blood will have excess cholesterol.

Medical treatment

In cases where the methods mentioned above can’t control the cholesterol levels, you can seek medical treatment. Medical treatment is especially useful if your high cholesterol levels are the result of hereditary factors.

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Article Author Details

Stuart Young