Updated: Jul 18, 2022
Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and digestive fluids. Cholesterol also helps your organs function properly.
Yet having too much LDL cholesterol can be a problem. High LDL cholesterol over time can damage your arteries, contribute to heart disease, and increase your risk for a stroke.
Getting your cholesterol checked at regular doctor visits and lowering your heart disease risk with diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and medication can help decrease complications associated with heart disease and improve quality of life.
Cholesterol is an essential component of the human brain. In fact, the brain contains about 25 percent of the body’s entire supply of cholesterol. This fat is essential for the development and protection of nerve cells, which enable the brain to communicate with the rest of the body.
While you need some cholesterol for your brain to function optimally, too much of it can be damaging. Excess cholesterol in the arteries can lead to strokes — a disruption in blood flow that can damage parts of the brain, leading to loss of memory, movement, difficulty with swallowing and speech and other functions.
In the digestive system, cholesterol is essential to produce bile — a substance that helps your body break down foods and absorb nutrients in your intestines. But if you have too much cholesterol in your bile, the excess forms into crystals and then hard stones in your gallbladder. Gallstones can be very painful.
Keeping an eye on your cholesterol level with recommended blood tests and lowering your risk for heart disease will help improve your overall quality of life.