About High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. It comes from two sources:
- It's made by your body and used to do important things, like make hormones and digest fatty foods.
- It's found in many foods, like egg yolks, fatty meats, and regular cheese.
When your body has too much cholesterol, it can build up on the walls of your blood vessels. These deposits are called plaque.
As your blood vessels build up plaque deposits over time, the inside of the vessels narrow and allows less blood to flow through to your heart and other organs.
When plaque buildup totally blocks a coronary artery carrying blood to the heart, it causes a heart attack. Another cause of heart attack is when a plaque deposit bursts and releases a clot in a coronary artery.
Angina is caused by plaque partially blocking a coronary artery, reducing blood flow to the heart and causing chest pain.
Learn more about high cholesterol:
- LDL and HDL: “Bad” and “Good” Cholesterol
- High Cholesterol Signs and Symptoms
- Treating High Cholesterol
Find downloadable fact sheets about high cholesterol and related conditions:
- Page last reviewed: March 16, 2015
- Page last updated: March 16, 2015
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