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High cholesterol increases the risk of other conditions. Some of these conditions include:

Coronary heart disease

The main risk associated with high cholesterol is coronary heart disease (CHD). Your blood cholesterol level can increase the risk of getting heart disease. If your cholesterol is too high, it builds up on the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup (called plaque) causes hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This condition causes arteries to become narrowed, slowing blood flow to the heart. The narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the heart. This can result in angina (chest pain) or in a heart attack in cases when a blood vessel is blocked completely.


Stroke can result if the blood supply to part of the brain is reduced. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain becomes blocked or bursts. When stroke occurs, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die.

Peripheral vascular disease

High cholesterol also has been linked to peripheral vascular disease (PAD), which refers to diseases of blood vessels outside the heart and brain. In PAD, fatty deposits build up along artery walls and affect blood circulation, mainly in arteries leading to the legs and feet.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is another disease linked to high cholesterol because diabetes can affect the different cholesterol levels. Even if blood sugar control is good, people with diabetes tend to have increased triglycerides, decreased HDL, and sometimes increased LDL. This increases the likelihood of developing narrowing in the arteries.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol also are linked. When the arteries become hardened and narrowed with cholesterol plaque and calcium (atherosclerosis), the heart has to strain much harder to pump blood through them. As a result, blood pressure becomes abnormally high.


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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 5/7/2013...#11918