When there is too much cholesterol, a fat-like substance in your blood, it can build up in your arteries, causing what's called "hardening of the arteries," so that blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked. Since blood carries oxygen to the heart, if you can't get enough blood/oxygen to your heart you may feel chest pain and if the blood supply is cut off completely because it's blocked, you'll experience a heart attack.
How much do you know about cholesterol? Test your knowledge with this American Heart Association quiz:Test Your Cholesterol IQ
If your doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol, you'll first need to understand what your cholesterol levels mean:National Heart Lung Blood Institute: What do your cholesterol numbers mean?
This is a good time to get familiar with any risk factors that may have increased your likelihood of having high cholesterol:Mayoclinic.com: High blood cholesterol - risk factors
Do you know the difference between total, LDL and HDL cholesterol? This fact-sheet spells it all out:American Heart Association: LDL and HDL Cholesterol - What's Bad and What's Good?
After getting the news that you have a condition that, if left untreated, could lead to a life-threatening problem, you may be experiencing many emotions. Talk with your loved ones and reach out for support if you need it during the initial stages of your journey:High Cholesterol Myths
- "There's no connection between diabetes and high cholesterol."
- "If you don't have chest pain, your cholesterol level is probably okay."
- "Only your diet affects your cholesterol level."