What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance in your body. Everyone's body makes cholesterol. Cholesterol also comes from the foods you eat.

Cholesterol and plaque buildup

When there is too much cholesterol in the blood it can:

  • Build up in your arteries
  • Harden your arteries
  • Contribute to the buildup of plaque inside the walls of your arteries

Plaque can build up inside your arteries. Too much plaque makes it harder for the blood to flow through the arteries. This can increase your risk of heart disease complications.


It is a good health habit to know how much cholesterol is in your blood.

How do I know if I have high cholesterol?

Your health care provider may want to check your cholesterol with a blood test. The name of this test is a lipid panel or lipid profile. Your health care provider will choose when this test is right for you. Health care providers take into account your age and if you show any risk of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease. This includes problems with your heart or blood vessels.

The lipid panel test includes:

  • LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
  • HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • Triglyceride levels
  • Total cholesterol levels


Ask your health care provider if you need your cholesterol checked.

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