Cholesterol is a waxy substance. Your body needs it to build cells, to insulate nerves, and to produce certain hormones. But having too much cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
High cholesterol does not cause symptoms. But over a period of time, it will lead to build-up of thick and hardened deposits called plaques in your arteries. Plaques narrow the space available for blood flow. Your heart may not get as much oxygen- rich blood as it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke.
Most of the cholesterol in your body is produced by the liver. The rest comes from foods such as poultry, meat and dairy products.
There are different types of cholesterol:
- Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol: known as “bad” cholesterol as it raises your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
- High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol: known as “good” cholesterol as it is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
High cholesterol can be inherited, but it's often the result of unhealthy lifestyle.