What is cholesterol?


Cholesterol is a type of lipid. It’s a waxy, fat-like substance that your liver produces naturally. It’s vital for the formation of cell membranes, certain hormones, and vitamin D.

Cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in water, so it can’t travel through your blood on its own. To help transport cholesterol, your liver produces lipoproteins.

Lipoproteins are particles made from fat and protein. They carry cholesterol and triglycerides (another type of lipid) through your bloodstream. The two major forms of lipoprotein are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

If your blood contains too much LDL cholesterol (cholesterol carried by low-density lipoprotein), it’s known as high cholesterol. When left untreated, high cholesterol can lead to many health problems, including heart attack or stroke.



Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called “bad cholesterol.”

It carries cholesterol to your arteries. If your levels of LDL cholesterol are too high, it can build up on the walls of your arteries.

The buildup is also known as cholesterol plaque. This plaque can narrow your arteries, limit your blood flow, and raise your risk of blood clots. If a blood clot blocks an artery in your heart or brain, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.

HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol”

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is sometimes called “good cholesterol.” It helps return LDL cholesterol to your liver to be removed from your body. This helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in your arteries.

When you have healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, it can help lower your risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke.

Triglycerides, a different type of lipid

Triglycerides are another type of lipid. They’re different from cholesterol. While your body uses cholesterol to build cells and certain hormones, it uses triglycerides as a source of energy.

When you eat more calories than your body can use right away, it converts those calories into triglycerides. It stores triglycerides in your fat cells. It also uses lipoproteins to circulate triglycerides through your bloodstream.

If you regularly eat more calories than your body can use, your triglyceride levels can get high. This may raise your risk of several health problems, including heart disease and stroke.

Your doctor can use a simple blood test to measure your triglyceride level, as well as your cholesterol levels.

Symptoms of high cholesterol


High cholesterol is often called "the silent killer" because for most people there are no obvious signs and symptoms to look out for. The first sign that you have high cholesterol could be:

  • Angina - caused by the narrowing of one or more arteries that feed the heart
  • Heart attack - caused by a blockage in one of the arteries that feed the heart
  • Stroke - caused by a blockage in one of the arteries in the neck or brain
  • Pain on walking - caused by a blockage to an artery that feeds the leg muscles
  • These symptoms point to the presence of established heart and circulatory disease.
  • Other signs to look out for people should be aware of their risk from cholesterol.
  • There are some things that make it more likely you have unhealthy cholesterol levels.
  • These are a mum, dad, brother, sister or child with high cholesterol
  • a mum, dad, brother or sister who have had a heart attack or angina before the age of 50 (man) or 60 (woman)
  • being a type 2 diabetic
  • having a diet high in animal or saturated fat
  • being physically inactive
  • fatty deposits on your eyelids or a white ring around the iris of the eye Not everyone with these signs will have high cholesterol. To help prevent cardiovascular (heart and circulatory) disease anyone over the age of 40 should have their cholesterol tested every 5 years.
Other risk factors

It is important to remember that high cholesterol is only one risk factor. Your risk of cardiovascular disease increases if you have additional risk factors such as:

  • you are older
  • you have a family history of early heart disease
  • you are a smoker
  • you have type diabetes
  • you are overweight or obese , especially if you are apple shaped.



Cholesterol is a fat produced by liver. It is vital for normal functioning of our body. It is present in the outer layer of each cell in our body. But an increase in Total cholesterol, LDL (Low density Lipoprotein) levels and decrease in the HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol levels can cause a lot of health problems, including a heart attack. The other factors that cause a higher risk of heart disease include lack of physical activity, obesity and diabetes. It is very necessary for an individual to keep his or her cholesterol levels under control. This can be done by following a healthy lifestyle that includes some exercise on a daily basis, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking and use of tobacco.
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