Symptoms of high cholesterol in women

Symptoms of high cholesterol in women

 Let’s look at symptoms of high cholesterol in women and why it matters so much.

We read a lot these days about high cholesterol LDL and bad cholesterol, even the foods that we eat are filled with sugar and saturated fat that can add to elevated cholesterol.

Elevated cholesterol is a total cholesterol level 200 mg/DL or ABOVE, as lot of women don’t have a clue as to what their total cholesterol is which means they just aren’t aware of the risks associated with LDL bad cholesterol and triglycerides.


What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood increasing the risk in women of a heart attack or stroke if is usually measured along with total cholesterol levels.

The risk is increased because cholesterol measurements in women can fluctuate quite a bit following the menopause and that is one of the reasons why symptoms of high cholesterol in women matter.

It also tends to increase with ageing so finding out your total cholesterol and triglycerides numbers is a step in the right direction towards a healthy body.

Understanding good and bad cholesterol

Numerous studies have shown that bad cholesterol is dangerous but what defines bad cholesterol? Is too much bad for you? What is cholesterol anyway?

The cells in your body produce cholesterol, it’s a sort of wax like material we also get cholesterol from foods that we EAT.

We need cholesterol to produce important things like oestrogen, vitamin d and progesterone, cholesterol also makes bile acids in your liver to digest food when you eat.

We know that our bodies need cholesterol however too much is bad for us because when it is floating around in your blood some of it can stick to the arterial walls, we call this plaque build-up it leads to hardening of the arteries or another word used is Atherosclerosis is a major factor in causing heart attacks and stroke.

So, it’s really important to recognise the symptoms of high cholesterol in women, Doctor Sam Robbins emphasizes that point here.

What is total cholesterol?

causes of poor circulation

After your blood test the results are broken down into total cholesterol which is the combination of the good cholesterol HDL and bad cholesterol LDL

  • Good cholesterol HDL means high density lipoprotein because it does all the good jobs in the body.
  • Bad cholesterol LDL means low density lipoprotein because it makes the plaque build-up in your arteries.

Here’s what happens, particles are floating around your bloodstream some of these are LDL or bad cholesterol that cling to the arterial wall, over time it starts to build up and your body thinks that it needs to respond by creating inflammation.

This only causes more damage to the arteries. The arteries become harder they begin to narrow this leads to a restriction on the much-needed blood flow to the major organs such as the heart and brain. 

The heart is put under too much pressure and this causes high blood pressure, the bigger danger is that this plaque may rupture and cause a stroke or heart attack.

This process can start early in life in some people as early as in their 20s, it’s so important to understand why symptoms of high cholesterol in women matter so much.

Triglycerides are dangerous

Women need to take heed of high levels of triglycerides because it has a more significant impact on your risk of heart disease compared to men.

Triglycerides are another type of fat that contributes to the build-up of plaque, Dr Sam Robbins is an endocrinologist, he has some interesting facts about cholesterol in women.

These are linked to the food that we eat so when we eat too many calories they are turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.

Triglycerides are useful from an energy point of view but too much of them can lead to an increase in your risk of heart disease.

Cholesterol in foods

Foods that produce triglycerides and should be avoided are snack bars, crisps, chocolate or any food that contains saturated fats or trans fats, supplements can help to lower cholesterol.

Health conditions such as an underactive thyroid, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, polycystic ovary disease contribute to high levels of triglycerides.

There are other factors that also contribute to atherosclerosis and they are

  • Abnormal glucose levels
  • Elevated LDL
  • Low HDL levels

What is normal cholesterol?

The normal blood test to establish your total cholesterol is called a lipid profile, the figures are taken from a measurement of HDL, LDL and triglycerides so what should normal cholesterol be?

A desirable level of LDL would be less than 100 mg/DL for women the HDL level should be more than 50 mg/DL your triglycerides ideally below 150 mg/DL adding the three together gives a total cholesterol level of 200 mg/DL which is ideal.

Cholesterol in women
Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

Why does cholesterol affect women in a different way?

Women in general compared to men have higher levels of the good cholesterol HDL it is thought that oestrogen (female sex hormone) gives a boost to good cholesterol.

As you enter the menopause cholesterol levels change along with other changes in the body, so do the symptoms of high cholesterol in women.

It won’t be a surprise to some women that even though they may have never had a problem with cholesterol levels during their earlier years that may change after the menopause family history also plays a part.

What are the symptoms of high cholesterol in women

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Leg pain when walking due to poor blood flow

Tips to lower cholesterol

Your doctor has informed you that your cholesterol is high, depending on the numbers a statin drug may be prescribed as a treatment to lower your cholesterol, of course prescribed drugs don’t suit everyone, some have terrible side effects, luckily there are natural supplements for the symptoms of high cholesterol in women and men.

Other factors are also taken into consideration such as your age, blood pressure, raised blood sugars or whether you smoke or not. If there is a family history of heart disease more than likely a statin drug will be used as a treatment.

What else can you do?

The two things that are recommended are your diet and your lifestyle, by changing what you eat and how you exercise can have a major impact on the effectiveness of cholesterol lowering medications, these tips will help

  • Eat plenty of fruit & vegetables, eat oats and beans to reduce LDL
  • Keep away from sugary drinks and juices, drink water or tea instead
  • Use olive oil instead of butter
  • Eat nutty grain bread
  • Consider fatty fish like salmon or mackerel
  • Consider a Mediterranean diet full of vegetables, fruit and nuts
  • Don’t smoke
  • Alcohol in moderation
  • Get a minimum of 30 minutes daily exercise at least 5 days per week.
  • Try natural supplements to reduce cholesterol.


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6 thoughts on “Symptoms of high cholesterol in women”

  1. Hello Fintan – 

    Such a great article you shared here. I’m a big believer in a sense that, ‘we are what we eat’ (health-wise). Thanks for sharing the different symptoms of high cholesterol in women. Thankfully, my cholesterol level has been normal.

    I had the chance to read your profile, I will try and pickup that book you mentioned for reference ‘No More Heart Disease’.  I did however, read a different book with similar content and it talked about how inflammation is the mostly the root cause of many diseases. 

    Also, thanks for sharing your health testimony. It gives people hope that they too can improve their lifestyle just by following your suggestions here in your article. 

    I know my comment is getting longer, I guess I’m passionate about better health = better life. I get asked why I still stay active in running even in my 50’s. I think it’s the best thing we can do to stay active and healthy. There are a couple of things I need to do is eat more fruits and vegetables and less white rice (my weakness). 


    • Hi Terry,

      Thank you for your comment,your health is your wealth,money can’t buy good health. Finding the right balance between the food that we eat and the exercise is the key.


  2. I am a female aged 65. I have always had good check-up results but last year the doctor told me my bad cholesterol was high and my good cholesterol was too low. I don’t like sugary drinks, consume no alcohol and go to the gym twice per week. I am not over weight but since numbers don’t lie, I have added oats to my diet, red yeast rice, and I am trying to eat more vegetables and introduce a brisk walking routine. I guess the results helped me to pay attention to those issues of health and this article is also quite helpful. Thank you !

    • Hi JJ,

      I’m glad that you have decided to do something positive about your cholesterol levels,the oats will help as will the exercise, keep it up!


  3. Thank you for such an informative and helpful article. So many people today suffer from this “disease” and a little group of people actually know how dangerous is high cholesterol. My dad has it but he does not pay much attention to it. He eats greasy food although doctor prohibited that. This is very important to know, I hope that I will succeed in explaining him this.


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