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Cholesterol and Heart Disease

What is the correlation between cholesterol and heart disease?

Your blood cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting heart disease.

  • High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
  • Cholesterol lowering is important for everyone – since heart disease can affect anyone: the young, middle age, and older adults; women and men; and people with or without heart disease.

What is a risk factor?

A risk factor is a condition that increases your chance of getting a disease.

  • In terms of cholesterol levels, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.

Heart Disease Facts and Figures

  • Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States.
  • Each year, more than a million Americans have heart attacks, and about a half million people die from heart disease.

How can high cholesterol levels lead to 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” so that arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked.
  • The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if enough blood and oxygen cannot reach your heart, you may suffer chest pain.
  • If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack.

How can I tell if I have high cholesterol?

  • High blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high.
  • It is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are because lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it.

Content Created/Medically Reviewed by our Expert Doctors


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