Why can a high cholesterol cause heart disease?

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Once you look at the definition of cholesterol, it's easy to see why high cholesterol can cause heart disease. The National Institute of Health defines cholesterol as, "a waxy, fat-like substance that's found in all cells of the body. Cholesterol in and of itself is not bad - in fact, your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones and vitamin D, and your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. But sometimes genetics and/or eating high fat foods and not getting enough exercise results in overly high cholesterol levels. When you have more cholesterol than your body needs, the waxy, excess cholesterol can build up and stick to the artery walls that's called plaque. When plaque forms, there is a significant increase in risk of two heart disease problems -- stroke and heart attack -- because plaque can break open and cause a blood clot. A stroke happens when a blood clot blocks an artery that feeds the brain. A heart attack is the result when plaque or a blood clot blocks an artery that feeds the heart.
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