In the fatty part of your blood is a substance called cholesterol. Cholesterol helps to build healthy cells. But too much cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease because the fatty deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Your blood will not be able to carry enough oxygen to your heart and brain resulting in a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is hereditary, but can also be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. A good diet and lots of exercise combined with medication where necessary will help control high levels of cholesterol.
Signs and symptoms
- High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect high cholesterol.
When to see a doctor
You should be tested for cholesterol at age 20 and at least every five years thereafter. If at any point your readings are high or if you are a regular smoker, your doctor is likely to recommend more frequent testing. High cholesterol can be hereditary so your doctor may also recommend more frequent tests if other member of your family have high cholesterol, heart disease diabetes or high blood pressure.