Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood and in your cells. Your liver makes most of the cholesterol in your body. The rest comes from foods you eat. Cholesterol travels in your blood bundled up in packets called lipoproteins. Cholesterol comes in two forms: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the “bad,” unhealthy kind of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries and form fatty, waxy deposits called plaques. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the “good,” healthy kind of cholesterol. It transports excess cholesterol out of your arteries to your liver, which removes it from your body.
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Cholesterol buildup in the arteries can also block a blood vessel to the brain and cause a stroke. Read More
Jaw pain can be a symptom of a heart attack, which can be caused by cholesterol deposits in arteries. Read More
LDL cholesterol builds up inside artery walls and forms sticky plaques. This buildup can lead to a stiffening and hardening of the arteries, called atherosclerosis. Read More
If plaque buildup inside a coronary artery cuts off blood flow to the heart muscle, the affected part of the heart muscle can die. This is called a heart attack. Read More
Your liver and other cells make about 75 percent of the cholesterol your body needs. The other 25 percent comes from foods you eat. Read More
This “healthy” form of cholesterol picks up extra cholesterol in your arteries and carries it back to the liver for removal. Read More
As the buildup of cholesterol plaques narrows and stiffens arteries, it limits the amount of blood that can flow through them. Read More
Excess cholesterol can block arteries to the brain, increasing your risk for a stroke. Read More
Too much cholesterol can contribute to heart disease and stroke, which are both risk factors for memory issues. High cholesterol on its own has been linked to mental impairment and dementia. Read More
When your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood, you can develop chest pain called angina. Read More
Too much cholesterol can cause gallstones to form. Sudden abdominal pain is a symptom of gallstones. Read More
Excess cholesterol can build up into hard, painful stones inside your gallbladder. Read More
Hardening of the arteries from excess LDL cholesterol can cause numbness in your legs or feet. Read More
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Excess cholesterol can block arteries to the brain, increasing your risk for a stroke. Read More
Cholesterol buildup in the arteries can also block a blood vessel to the brain and cause a stroke. Read More
Too much cholesterol can contribute to heart disease and stroke, which are both risk factors for memory issues. High cholesterol on its own has been linked to mental impairment and dementia. Read More
Jaw pain can be a symptom of a heart attack, which can be caused by cholesterol deposits in arteries. Read More
LDL cholesterol builds up inside artery walls and forms sticky plaques. This buildup can lead to a stiffening and hardening of the arteries, called atherosclerosis. Read More
When your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood, you can develop chest pain called angina. Read More
If plaque buildup inside a coronary artery cuts off blood flow to the heart muscle, the affected part of the heart muscle can die. This is called a heart attack. Read More
Too much cholesterol can cause gallstones to form. Sudden abdominal pain is a symptom of gallstones. Read More
Your liver and other cells make about 75 percent of the cholesterol your body needs. The other 25 percent comes from foods you eat. Read More
Excess cholesterol can build up into hard, painful stones inside your gallbladder. Read More
As the buildup of cholesterol plaques narrows and stiffens arteries, it limits the amount of blood that can flow through them. Read More
This “healthy” form of cholesterol picks up extra cholesterol in your arteries and carries it back to the liver for removal. Read More
Hardening of the arteries from excess LDL cholesterol can cause numbness in your legs or feet. Read More
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Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and digestive fluids. Cholesterol also helps your organs function properly. Yet having too much LDL cholesterol can be a problem. High cholesterol over time can damage your arteries, contribute to heart disease, and increase your risk for a stroke. Getting your cholesterol checked at regular doctor visits and lowering levels with diet, exercise, and medicines can help prevent these and other complications.
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Cardiovascular and circulatory systems

When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your body it can build up in your arteries, clogging them and making them less flexible. Hardening of the arteries is called atherosclerosis. Blood doesn’t flow as well through stiff arteries, so your heart has to work harder to push blood through them. As plaque builds up in your arteries, over time you can develop heart disease. Plaque buildup in coronary arteries can disrupt the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. This may cause chest pain called angina. Angina isn’t a heart attack, but it can warn that you’re at risk for a heart attack. A piece of plaque can eventually break off and form a clot, which can block blood flow to your heart, leading to a heart attack, or to your brain, leading to a stroke. Plaque can also block the flow of blood to arteries that supply blood to your arms, stomach, legs, and feet. This is called peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
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Endocrine system

Your body’s hormone-producing glands use cholesterol to make hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. Hormones can also have an effect on your body’s cholesterol levels. Some has found that as estrogen levels rise during a woman’s menstrual cycle. HDL cholesterol levels also go up, and LDL cholesterol levels decline. This may be one reason why a woman’s risk for heart disease increases after menopause, when estrogen levels drop. Lowered production of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) leads to an increase in total and LDL cholesterol. Excess thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) has the opposite effect. Androgen deprivation therapy, which reduces levels of male hormones to stop prostate cancer growth, can raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol levels. A deficiency of growth hormone can also raise LDL cholesterol levels.
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Nervous system

Cholesterol is an essential component of the human brain. In fact, the brain contains about of the body’s entire supply of cholesterol. This fat is essential for the development and protection of nerve cells, which enable the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. While you need some cholesterol for your brain to function optimally, too much of it can be damaging. Excess cholesterol can lead to strokes — a disruption in blood flow that can damage parts of the brain, leading to loss of memory, movement, and other functions. High blood cholesterol on its own has also been implicated in the loss of memory and mental function. Having high blood cholesterol accelerates the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, the sticky protein deposits that damage the brain in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
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Digestive system

In the digestive system, cholesterol is essential for the production of bile — a substance that helps your body break down foods and absorb nutrients in your intestines. But if you have too much cholesterol in your bile, the excess forms into crystals, and then hard stones in your gallbladder. Gallstones can be very painful. Keeping an eye on your cholesterol level with regular blood tests will help you catch — and treat — any issues before they can lead to heart disease or other complications.