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Can High Cholesterol Cause Headaches and Dizziness?

by
author image Hannah Rice Myers
Based in Jamestown, Pa., Hannah Rice Myers has more than 10 years of experience as a freelance writer, specializing in the health industry. Many of her articles have appeared in newspapers, as well as "Curing Epilepsy: Hope Through Research." Rice Myers received her master's degree in nursing from Upstate Medical University in 2001.

High cholesterol has numerous health repercussions, such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Dizziness and headaches are symptoms of one of these conditions: stroke. Although high cholesterol might not cause these symptoms itself, it is indirectly related because it is a risk factor for stroke.

Stroke

Strokes occur as a result of carotid artery disease, a condition resulting from a buildup of plaque in your carotid arteries, the blood vessels leading to your brain. When plaque -- a substance consisting of cholesterol, calcium and fat -- forms along the walls of these vessels, blood flow to your brain is restricted; this is known as carotid artery disease. MayoClinic.com explains the progression of CAD is gradual, often showing no symptoms. The first indication of its presence is a stroke, or transient ischemic attack, also referred to as a mini-stroke.

The Role of Cholesterol

The National Stroke Association explains that excess amounts of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, can lead to the formation of plaque in the carotid arteries. It also increases your risk of heart disease, another risk factor for stroke. The NSA reports that high cholesterol is a controllable risk factor for both stroke and mini-stroke.

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Stroke Symptoms

The signs of stroke are sudden and require immediate medical attention. Aside from dizziness and a headache for no apparent reason, you also might experience numbness in your face or extremities on one side of your body. Blurred or double vision is common, as is difficulty walking due to loss of coordination. You might find you cannot speak or have problems understanding those around you.

Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends having your cholesterol levels checked at least once every five years. If you currently take cholesterol-lowering medications, follow your dosing instructions to the letter. Eat a healthy, low-fat, high-fiber diet. Reducing your intake of saturated fats to no more than 10 percent of your total daily calories helps reduce your cholesterol, according to MayoClinic.com. Exercise for 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Make it a family affair and play Frisbee with your kids. Visit your doctor regularly to ensure you are in optimal health.

Additional Tips

If you notice someone having a stroke, take note of when the first symptom or symptoms appeared. The emergency medical team or emergency room doctor can administer tissue plasminogen activator. This drug can bust blood clots and might reduce long-term disabilities associated with the common stroke. It must, however, be given within three hours of the start of the symptoms, explains the American Stroke Association. Additionally, mini-strokes produce the same symptoms as a stroke but are shorter in duration. Recognizing these symptoms and seeking immediate treatment can prevent a major stroke from occurring.

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