Cholesterol - a type of fat - is essential for a healthy body. However, a high level of cholesterol in the blood causes atherosclerosis, which is a build up of fatty plaque in the arteries. As a result, high blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke and other vascular diseases1.
The risk associated with high blood cholesterol is continuous; as the level of blood cholesterol increases so does the risk of cardiovascular disease2.
The main cause of high blood cholesterol is a diet high in saturated fats, but genetic factors and other health conditions, such as diabetes also contributes to high blood cholesterol in some people3.
The Queensland Strategy for Chronic Disease 2005-2015 identifies high cholesterol as one of six markers for chronic disease. The strategy is supported by a range of guidelines, research and initiatives.