Often known as the silent killer, high cholesterol frequently comes with no symptoms. This causes the disease to potentially run rampant, causing significant, often dangerous problems to develop without any warning.
At Nguyen Medical Group in Boynton Beach, Florida, Thomas Nguyen, MD, recommends regular cholesterol screenings to ensure you keep your cholesterol levels in check and pursue treatment before they become dangerously high. Here are seven problems you could develop if you have high cholesterol long term.
What problems can high cholesterol cause?
High cholesterol occurs when your natural cholesterol levels are higher than they should be. This causes cholesterol to build up in your arteries, leading to potentially serious conditions.
These are seven medical conditions you’re at risk of developing if you have high cholesterol.
1. Heart disease
High levels of cholesterol can lead to developing coronary heart disease, which means plaque builds up in your arteries, eventually causing them to harden. This reduces the amount of blood that can flow into your heart.
Heart disease can cause you to develop disruptive chest pains, known as angina, or have heart attacks if the narrowed blood vessels become blocked.
Like the arteries going to your heart can narrow and become blocked, so can the blood vessels going to the brain. If these blood vessels get blocked or burst, a result can be having a stroke. Strokes can cause irreversible damage to your body.
3. Type 2 diabetes
High levels of LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and lowered levels of “good,” or HDL, cholesterol are a common characteristic of type 2 diabetes. This means people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have high cholesterol.
Diabetes can lead to a number of health consequences, including reduced vision, foot neuropathy, and kidney damage.
4. Peripheral vascular disease
Peripheral vascular disease occurs when plaque build ups develop from high cholesterol in the blood vessels that bring blood to your legs. Like the vessels that go to your brain or heart, these can become blocked.
This can cause you to feel debilitating cramping and pain in your legs when you walk, which improves when you stop and rest.
5. High blood pressure
As your arteries narrow from high cholesterol, they can become inflamed and constrict, or tighten. This can cause you to develop high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol.
Like high cholesterol, high blood pressure usually doesn’t have symptoms, putting you at even greater risk of developing further complications.
6. Kidney disease
Your kidneys can become damaged, causing you to develop kidney disease, when the arteries leading to the kidneys narrow from high cholesterol. Your kidneys also regulate your blood pressure, so permanent damage to them additionally can cause high blood pressure.
7. Erectile dysfunction
Men who have high cholesterol can have a harder time attaining and maintaining an erection. This is because the blood flow can be restricted from the arteries to the penis.
Reduced blood flow to the heart from high cholesterol can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Preventing complications from high cholesterol
Often, you can manage your cholesterol levels with a healthy lifestyle routine. If you’ve been diagnosed with high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol levels, our providers help you lower your levels with a healthy diet, exercise routine, and help you quit smoking.
Our team also recommends you have regular cholesterol screenings and preventive health physicals to monitor your health and catch any potential concerns quickly.
If you’re due for a cholesterol screening or have concerns about your cholesterol levels, schedule your consultation with the skilled team at Nguyen Medical Group.