Let’s talk about the “side effects” of high cholesterol (or, to be more accurate, the symptoms of cholesterol).
To be even more accurate, we could just call them “the effects of high cholesterol.”
Because honestly, high cholesterol doesn’t really manifest in some sort of outward “side effect” or visible, progressive symptom until it’s too late.
You probably already know that high cholesterol can cause a heart attack or a stroke, but these aren’t exactly “side effects” of high cholesterol…
These are effects, and serious ones at that. They’re deadly symptoms, and not everyone survives these outward signs of high cholesterol.
To be clear, stroke and heart attack are not exclusively caused by high cholesterol, but high cholesterol is often a strong contributing factor, if not the main factor, behind these issues. As cholesterol builds up in your body over time, you develop a condition known as “atherosclerosis,” which is a hardening and a narrowing of your arteries.
You generally don’t notice that this is taking place until you have a heart attack or a stroke. As far as the “side effects” of high cholesterol are concerned (read “symptoms”), the only possible warning sign is chest pain, which is why it’s so important to get to a medical professional immediately if you start having chest pain.
“Side Effects” Refer to Medication
When we think of side effects, we’re generally thinking of medications — a medication is meant to achieve a certain effect, and if the medication causes anything beyond the desired effect, we call it a side effect.
With health issues, like high cholesterol, we look at things a little differently. We wouldn’t really say that there are “side effects” of high cholesterol. Instead, we would say there are symptoms, if we said anything, but the problem with high cholesterol is that there aren’t really symptoms either.
You might have some chest pain leading up to the heart attack, but mostly, you just have a heart attack or a stroke one day.
They’re silent killers. And if you survive, you’re often seriously debilitated.
The “Side Effects” of High Cholesterol Don’t Really Exist — You Simply Have a Heart Attack or Stroke
You don’t really have progressive, visible “side effects” of high cholesterol, that is, of cholesterol building up in your body over time. The reason is simple — not much happens until an artery becomes blocked.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that, while necessary for important biological processes and structures, causes your arteries to harden and narrow over time. Basically, your arteries fill up with the wax until they become blocked (or become so narrow that something, like a blood clot, becomes stuck inside them).
If this happens near your heart, you have a heart attack. If this happens near your brain, you have a stroke.
Now, for most people, the only “warning sign” that their cholesterol is high might be some chest pain, but not much is going to happen from a physical (or even a mental) standpoint. You’re not going to become progressively more fatigued, for example. As mentioned before, there aren’t really “side effects” of high cholesterol other than possibly chest pain, but not everyone experiences this.
For High Cholesterol, Your Lifestyle Is Your Best Warning Sign — You Can Also Get Your Cholesterol Tested
There are warning signs in terms of your lifestyle, or in terms of other diseases, for high cholesterol.
Someone who has diabetes or kidney disease, for example, is more likely to have high cholesterol. If you have a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, or get little exercise, you’re more likely to have high cholesterol, a heart attack, or a stroke.
You can read more about some of the risk factors for heart disease here, but it’s important to note that high cholesterol is not the only cause of heart disease or stroke, though it’s an important factor.
The most important thing you can do is usually to change your lifestyle (which is easier said than done). You also may want to get a full lipid panel done to determine exactly what your cholesterol levels are.
That being said, some people have high cholesterol as a simple product of their genes. If this is the case for you, you may need to work harder than others to control your cholesterol.
The “side effects” of high cholesterol are no joke, so, if you find out you have high cholesterol, it’s something to take seriously.
If You’re Out of Shape, Testosterone Could Be Part of the Problem
For some, making lifestyle changes is far from an easy process. In some cases, we’ve found that men (and women) with low testosterone suffer from some of the risk factors for heart attack or stroke, including obesity. When testosterone is low, your body tends to hold on to fat more aggressively, which in turn leads to less exercise and greater weight gain.
It can become a vicious cycle.
If you think you might have high cholesterol, talk to your medical provider. If you think you might have low testosterone, I’d advise you to do the same — the only way to know for sure what your testosterone levels are is to get a test.
To learn more about the symptoms of low testosterone, click the button below.