Cholesterol, when kept at healthy levels, is a natural and necessary component of your body. It’s when levels get high that people need to be concerned. High cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
High cholesterol levels may lead to the development of fatty deposits in your blood vessels, which makes it difficult for blood to flow through your arteries properly. 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.
The three types of cholesterol include:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) - LDL is often referred to as the "bad" cholesterol, as it builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow. LDLs are a class of lipoprotein particles which carry cholesterol in the blood and around the body, for use by your cells.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) - HDL is the "good" cholesterol. It picks up excess cholesterol and experts say that it moves it away from your arteries and returns it to your liver, where it is then passed from your body.
Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) - This type of lipoprotein contains the most triglycerides, a fat that is attached to the proteins in your blood. Like LDL cholesterol, VLDL cholesterol makes LDL cholesterol particles larger, causing your blood vessels to narrow.
Heart Disease - This describes a range of diseases that affect your heart and blood vessels. Diseases include, blood vessels diseases, such as coronary artery disease; abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias); and congenital heart defects.
Stroke - A stroke happens when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Early treatment is crucial to minimize brain damage and other complications.