You won’t run a high temperature, lose your balance or experience shortness of breath when cholesterol level is slowly creeping up in your body. In other words, high cholesterol level is a silent killer which may go on to deteriorate your heart and circulation and you may not suffer the consequences until a few decades later if your cholesterol level stays persistently high. So, being aware of what harm high cholesterol level can do to you is important to get you started on the move to control cholesterol. What are the dangers of having high cholesterol level?
You run the risk of atherosclerosis if your cholesterol level shoots up uncontrollably with the lipid sticking at your artery walls. What can the substance do to your blood vessels? Picture your artery as a drain and the cholesterol as trash which lodges stubbornly in the drain. This would badly impair drainage and the same goes to the blood flow in your circulation. The accumulation of cholesterol forms plaque which narrows your arteries and disrupts normal blood flow.
You may not notice any symptoms when the plaques are new and small in size. However, with the increase in cholesterol level, the plaque grows bigger, further limiting blood flow through your arteries and causing poor blood circulation.
The formation of plaques can damage the arterial wall and reduce the elasticity of the arteries. When the walls are less flexible and more rigid, it takes more strength for the heart to pump blood through the blood vessels resulting in extra load and strain upon the heart. Blood flow becomes more restricted and pressure increases. Not only will your blood pressure increase, your heart muscles will weaken and enlarge as a result of hypertension.
Arteries in the brain may also be haunted by plaques with disruption to normal blood flow. A slight obstruction may cause a mini stroke or transient ischemic stroke. However, the greater nightmare may ensue when the cholesterol plaques rupture and forms a clot. When this occurs, brain cells will be deprived of nutrient and oxygen supplied by blood causing stroke or permanent brain damage. In certain cases, harmful clot which forms in the heart may also travel to the brain and cause stroke.
The buildup of cholesterol plaques can do the same harm to the heart just as they do to the brain. The first symptom which you may experience when your heart is not getting enough oxygen due to obstructed blood flow from plaques is chest pain. You will feel tightness or a crushing pain in the chest while sweating and the pain maybe become more intense as it spreads up to your jaw and to the left shoulder. If the plaques rupture and form a clot, main arteries in the heart will be blocked, causing death to heart muscles. This is when heart attack occurs and they can be very fatal if immediate treatment is not given.
Peripheral vascular disease
Your peripheral circulation especially at your leg can be affected by accumulation of cholesterol deposits as well. When plaque forms at the arteries and disrupts blood flow, your leg may feel painful upon walking as the circulation weakens. With less blood supply to nourish cells, wound healing may also be delayed if your leg is injured, especially in diabetics. If appropriate treatment is not provided, there is a risk of gangrene and amputation.