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This is the #1 Sign Your Cholesterol is "Too Elevated"

Learn what to know about high cholesterol. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

High cholesterol is a common health issue that more than half of adults in the United States struggle with according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While high cholesterol is a dangerous health concern because it can lead to serious complications like heart disease, many don't realize their level is too high and is oftentimes called a silent killer because there can be no warning signs. A simple blood test can indicate if you have high cholesterol and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Urgent Care Medical Director and Physician, Carbon Health and Saint Mary's Hospital who shares what to know about cholesterol. Please consult your physician for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Why Cholesterol is Needed

mature woman good digestion as side effect of CBDA

Dr. Curry-Winchell tells us, "Cholesterol is a substance that is needed for your body to make hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. It also plays a huge part in building healthy cells, and aids in digestion."   


Why High Cholesterol is a Major Health Concern

Woman lying in bed at home holding a hand to her chest by a sharp pain

Dr. Curry-Winchell says, "Although cholesterol is essential, too much of it can cause harm. Elevated levels of cholesterol can create a substance referred to as "plaque" that settles within the walls of blood vessels and can reduce blood flow to organs such as the heart. Too much plaque can increase a person's risk for a cardiac event such as a heart attack or stroke." 


Signs of High Cholesterol

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Dr. Curry-Winchell explains, "It's possible you won't have any obvious signs of high cholesterol. It's a disease that often goes unnoticed only to be revealed at the time you receive a routine lab result or experience a cardiac event such as a chest pain or stroke. Therefore, it's important to speak to your health care provider about your risks of getting high cholesterol such as family history, current health status, diet, physical activity, smoking status, and alcohol intake."

According to Cedars-Sinai, "There are no symptoms of high cholesterol unless the condition is severe. In such cases, fat deposits can form in tendons and skin or even cause severe stomach pain due to an enlarged liver or spleen."


Why High Cholesterol is Common

no smoking sign

"Some people don't have a choice and inherit elevated cholesterol referred to as familial dyslipidemia," Dr. Curry-Winchell says. "It can also be due to lifestyle choices such as eating a high fat/carbohydrate diet, moderate to heavy drinking, smoking, and participating in a sedentary lifestyle can all increase your risks. Whether it's inherited, due to lifestyle choices, or from a chronic disease, you may be able to lower your cholesterol thru diet, exercise, and establish care with a health care provider for annual screening and monitoring based on your risk factors."


If You Have This Cholesterol Number, It's Too High

closeup doctor's hand holding blood sample for cholesterol

Dr. Curry-Winchell tells us, "A total cholesterol above 200 is considered elevated. This number reflects your HDL "good" and LDL "bad." However, an elevated HDL is a good thing to have. A high level lowers your cardiac risks by aiding in the removal of cholesterol. Exercising, improving your diet, and smoking cessation have been shown to increase HDL."


Dangers of Not Treating High Cholesterol

Blood Cholesterol Report Test Healthcare

"You are at high risk for developing a life altering disease and complications such as a stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, kidney disease, peripheral arterial disease, and Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Curry-Winchell states.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather