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Signs and Complications of High Cholesterol

Signs and Complications of High Cholesterol

Having high cholesterol can lead to heart disease as well as other cardiovascular problems. And aside from getting a blood test to check for your cholesterol levels, identifying the symptoms of high cholesterol can help give you an idea about your current state of health.

What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?

The truth is that there are no overt symptoms when it comes to having high cholesterol. Being obese or overweight is commonly associated with high cholesterol. However, this is not always the case.

Even people who seem to be fit and healthy can suffer from high cholesterol. The only sure way to know if you have high cholesterol or not would be to get a blood test. This is also the reason why high cholesterol is also known as a silent disease.

However, we can identify some symptoms of the possible complications of having high cholesterol. Here are some of those symptoms.

Symptoms of High Cholesterol Complications

Angina or chest pain

Angina or chest pain can sometimes be related to having high cholesterol levels in the blood. While it’s not directly one of the symptoms of high cholesterol, it is a complication that stems from it.

Angina happens when the heart is unable to receive enough blood. This is mainly caused by the build up of plaque in the arteries which interferes with blood flow.

Having high cholesterol can lead to angina since plaque is made up of fat, calcium, and cholesterol.

If you experience angina, it would be a good idea to get it checked by a doctor. This is because angina usually indicates a problem with a person’s heart, and the sooner it can get treated, the better.

Heart attack

A heart attack is similar to an angina in that both of them cause chest pain. However, a heart attack differs in that it happens when the blood flow to the heart gets blocked.

This usually is the result of a buildup of plaque, and if left untreated, heart attacks can cause permanent damage or even death.

If you experience a heart attack, it would be a good idea to go to a doctor as soon as possible in order to get treated immediately.

symptoms of high cholesterol


Atherosclerosis is another complication of having high cholesterol. While it is not directly one of the symptoms of high cholesterol, a lot of people with high cholesterol also suffer from arthritis.

This condition is defined as a build up of plaque in a person’s arteries. This means that atherosclerosis can both lead to angina, and heart attacks.

Additionally, atherosclerosis can also increase a person’s risk of hypertension as well as aneurysm.

Having high cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis because it increases the risk that plaque would start to build up in the arteries.

Atherosclerosis is also a progressive disease. This means that it develops gradually over time, and it would be difficult to determine the symptoms during its early stages.

This is also the reason why atherosclerosis usually happens in older people, as a result of a lifetime of unhealthy eating and high cholesterol.

All You Need To Know About Atherosclerosis


An aneurysm happens when artery walls start to weaken and “balloon” out.

Aneurysms are usually caused by blood clots, and having high cholesterol increases the risk that a person will develop blood clots. High cholesterol levels in the blood also cause inflammation in a person’s arteries, which also increases the risk of aneurysms.

Aneurysms are particularly dangerous, especially if they rupture in the heart, or in the brain, which causes a stroke.

High blood pressure

Another condition that is commonly associated with the symptoms of high cholesterol is high blood pressure.

High cholesterol can lead to high blood pressure because too much cholesterol can harden and block a person’s arteries. This causes a person to have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure also increases a person’s risk for heart attacks, aneursym, and stroke.


Xanthomas are an accumulation of fat that usually deposits in a person’s skin. It usually appears as a yellowish mass of skin or growths that can be as large as a grape.

While xanthomas can be caused by a number of conditions such as coronary heart disease or pancreatitis, having high cholesterol levels can also cause xanthomas.

For the most part, xanthomas are harmless. However, it can be indicative of an underlying health problem, so it would be a good idea to get it checked as soon as possible.


Dizziness, along with lightheadedness are not directly symptoms of high cholesterol. However, they are both symptoms of complications that result from having high cholesterol levels.

These symptoms are mostly caused by having high blood pressure, but can also be a symptom of heart disease and atherosclerosis.

If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor immediately. This is because having high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems usually come with having high cholesterol levels in the blood.

Experiencing any of these symptoms should be a red flag that lets you know you need to do something about it.


Learn more about cholesterol, here.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

High cholesterol - Illnesses and conditions | NHS inform, https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/blood-and-lymph/high-cholesterol, Accessed July 23 2020 High Cholesterol: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment, https://familydoctor.org/condition/cholesterol/, Accessed July 23 2020 High Cholesterol - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments - British Heart Foundation, https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/risk-factors/high-cholesterol, Accessed July 23 2020 High Cholesterol: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment - Heart Foundation, https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/wellbeing/managing-risk/managing-high-cholesterol, Accessed July 23 2020 High cholesterol - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/symptoms-causes/syc-20350800, Accessed July 23 2020
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Feb 08, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel