Signs and symptoms of high cholesterol

Learn the signs and symptoms of high cholesterol.

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What are the signs and symptoms of high cholesterol?

High cholesterol has no symptoms. Only a blood test can detect high cholesterol.

Should you be tested?

Screening for high cholesterol is recommended for:

  • men over 40 years old
  • women who are over 50 years old or post-menopausal

Screening for high cholesterol is also recommended for people who have:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • a history of smoking
  • excessive stomach fat
  • a family history of early heart disease or stroke
  • physical signs of high cholesterol (such as fatty deposits under the skin)
  • evidence of vascular disease or coronary artery disease, with or without symptoms
    • vascular disease is any disease that affects the blood vessels, such as:
      • aneurysm
      • renal (kidney) disease
      • peripheral artery disease
    • coronary artery disease is a build-up of plaque in the arteries of the heart
      • plaque is a mix of fats, calcium and cholesterol

How is high cholesterol diagnosed?

A cholesterol blood test gives important information about the amount and types of fats in the bloodstream. Types of fats include cholesterol and triglycerides.

Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in your body. Triglycerides are produced by your body and also come from the food you eat. When you eat, your body converts unused calories into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells and are released for energy in between meals.

If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, this may lead to high levels of triglycerides. If the levels of triglycerides in your blood are too high, they can affect your blood cholesterol levels.

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