What are the dangers of high cholesterol?

How High Cholesterol Leads to Heart Attack and Stroke

  • Cholesterol can stick to your artery walls. As it builds up, it forms plaque. This narrows the space inside your arteries through which blood can flow. Eventually, plaque can block blood flow.
  • The buildup of plaque is called hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Plaque may be forming for years before you have symptoms.
  • By blocking blood flow to your heart or brain, plaque can cause heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.

You can help prevent these conditions by treating high cholesterol as soon as you become aware of it.


When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your arteries along with other substances, such as fats, cell waste products, calcium, and a clotting material called fibrin. This process of buildup is called hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. The word atherosclerosis comes from the Greek words athero, for gruel or paste, and sclerosis for hardness. The fatty deposits of atherosclerosis are called plaque.