How does high blood cholesterol affect your risk for heart disease?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by the liver to help meet the body’s need for hormones and bile acids. It also enters the body when high-fat foods are consumed and when the body’s cholesterol level is higher than necessary for normal cell functioning. The resulting High Blood cholesterol is a condition that greatly increases your chances of developing Coronary heart disease. That is because extra cholesterol in the blood settles on the inner walls of the arteries, narrowing them, allowing less blood to pass through them to the heart. The higher your total blood cholesterol level, the greater your heart disease risk.
For all adults, a desirable total blood cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dL. A level of 240 or above is considered high blood cholesterol. But even levels in the “borderline-high category (200-239) boost the risk of heart disease.
For a woman, the level of high density lipoprotein (or HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol) also affects Heart disease risk. If your HDL is less than 35, your risk of Heart disease increases.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD