Cholesterol is an essential fat found in every cell in the body, used to produce things like hormones, vitamin D and bile salts. There are two main types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, referred to as “good cholesterol,” and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, referred to as “bad cholesterol.”

While a certain amount of cholesterol is necessary, too much cholesterol can block the flow of blood through the arteries. This narrowing of the arteries, or arteriosclerosis, can eventually lead to a stroke or heart attack. Most people don’t experience symptoms associated with high cholesterol, but those whose high cholesterol causes arteriosclerosis may experience chest pain.

Two types of lipid disorders are hypercholesterolemia, or high blood cholesterol, and hypertriglyceridemia, or too much fat in the blood. Patients with hypercholesterolemia can be at risk for stroke and cardiac arrest. Cholesterol levels can be controlled through an active and healthy lifestyle. HIgh triglycerides can lead to fatty infiltration of the liver, which can cause cirrhosis, scarring and liver cancer over the course of years. In addition, if sufficiently elevated, hypertriglyceridemia can cause pancreatitis.

 

Additional Expert Sources:

Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Merck Manuals
Cleveland Clinic

 

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