Hypercholesterolaemia Complications

Health Window

If poorly managed or untreated, high cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in your arteries. Plaque is the deposit of excessive cholesterol in the walls of blood vessels. Over time, this plaque can cause a narrowing of your arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a serious condition. It can limit the flow of blood through your arteries by not only narrowing the arteries but also totally blocking them. It also raises your risk of developing dangerous blood clots.

Atherosclerosis can result in many life-threatening complications, such as:

  • Strokes, where a piece of plaque dislodges into the brain and blocks blood from flowing to certain parts
  • Heart attacks, where a piece of plaque breaks off and blocks the arteries that supply the heart
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • High blood pressure
  • Peripheral vascular disease, narrowing of the small blood vessels mostly in the legs
  • Chronic kidney disease

The longer your cholesterol stays elevated, the higher the chance of developing some of the complications. Many of the complications can result in hospital admission and can even be life-threatening.

Therefore, it is important to keep your cholesterol level controlled. This can be done with lifestyle changes and using the correct medication.


Once placed on medication, it is of utmost importance to drink the drug as prescribed and make sure you regularly monitor your levels to see whether the disease is being managed adequately. Communicate any worries and concerns regarding the medication with your doctor.

High cholesterol  is manageable.


Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window

Reference: Wallis EJ, Ramsay LE, Ul Haq I, et al. Coronary and cardiovascular risk estimation for primary prevention: validation of a new Sheffield table in the 1995 Scottish health survey population. BMJ 2000; 320:671.

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