ZocdocAnswersWhat are the symptoms of high cholesterol?

Question

What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?

I'm worried about my father because all he eats is junk food. I'm afraid that he could have something that will cause a heart attack like high cholesterol. What are the symptoms of high cholesterol? He always says that his stomach hurts when he eats. Is this a symptom?

Answer

High levels of "bad cholesterol," also known as LDL or low-density lipoprotein, have been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease in several studies. This includes coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, and stroke. High cholesterol is only one factor that contributes to the process that ultimately ends in an outcome such as a heart attack or stroke. Until such an endpoint is reached, high cholesterol is relatively quiet in terms of it producing symptoms. When levels of cholesterol get very high, a person may experience small yellow plaques on the skin (classically under the eyes). However, a person may have extremely high levels of cholesterol with no symptoms, and feel absolutely fine until a bad outcome such as a heart attack is experienced. High cholesterol would not be directly responsible for causing stomach pain with eating, but this could be a sign of advanced atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in the blood vessels leading to the stomach and intestines. Another possibility is that of a stomach ulcer or inflamed stomach lining. Your father should see his primary care physician so that his risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including cholesterol, can be assessed, and so his stomach pains can be evaluated by his physician.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.