ZocdocAnswersHow dangerous is high cholesterol?

Question

How dangerous is high cholesterol?

Pretty sure I have it because it runs in my fmily and its been a lonng time since I seen a doctor. What's the worst that could happen, realistically, I'm still pretty young?

Answer

Cholesterol comes in different forms. The two main types are High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) or the "good" cholesterole and Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) or the "bad" cholesterol. To simplify their physiology, HDL transports lipids from the peripheral circulation to the liver for processing (i.e. removing cholesterol plague formation on arteries). On the other hand, LDL cholesterol transports lipids from the liver to the peripheral circulation which can worsen cholesterol plaque formation in the arteries. High cholesterol can sometimes run in families. Certain genetic defects can affect the way that cholesterols are processed leading to exceptionally elevated triglyceride or cholesterol levels. You may not feel any difference acutely with high levels of cholesterol, but over a long period of time, plaques within large arteries can develop causing crampy legs, ischemic or dead bowels, and artery disease etc... The condition can eventually lead to a stroke or heart attack. This often occurs in the 4th-5th decade in males and 6th decade in females. Like high blood pressure, there are really no signs of it coming unless you test for it which can easily be done as a routine blood work from a fasting blood sample. There are many good medications that can help you keep your cholesterol in check. Long term management of this problem is essential in staying healthy. I suggest that you follow up with a primary care physician or cardiologist soon.

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

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