The link between blood cholesterol levels and disease can be explained by the following information. This information, in summary, is from the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institure (NIH).
Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. However, cholesterol also is found in some of the foods you eat.
High blood cholesterol is a condition in which you have too much cholesterol in your blood. People who have high blood cholesterol have a greater chance of getting coronary heart disease, also called coronary artery disease. It is optimal to keep the good cholesterol (HDL) higher than your bad cholesterol (LDL).
Coronary heart disease is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your coronary arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture. This causes a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery. If the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle is reduced or blocked, a heart attack may occur.
Plaque also can build up in other arteries in your body, such as the arteries that bring oxygen-rich blood to your brain and limbs. This can lead to problems such as carotid artery disease, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.).
High blood cholesterol is treated with lifestyle changes and medication. The main goal of treatment is to lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level enough to reduce your risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack, and other related health problems. Some lifestyle changes can include a healthy diet, weight management, physical activity, & cholesterol-lowering medications.