Can High Cholesterol Cause Headaches?

September 8, 2023
woman with a headache

Headaches are everyday challenges that may arise from many different sources, from stress to dietary choices to underlying medical conditions. Among the myriad potential causes, there’s a lingering notion that high cholesterol levels could be a culprit. However, as we delve into the realm of medical science, it’s essential to separate fact from fiction. In this blog, we’ll explore the question, “Can high cholesterol cause headaches?” and shed light on the relationship between the two.

What is High Cholesterol? 

Cholesterol is a fatty substance present in every cell of our body, and it is crucial for various physiological functions. It’s transported through the bloodstream by lipoproteins, specifically low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL)

High levels of cholesterol occur when there’s an excessive amount of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. This can lead to the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries and blood vessels, forming plaques that narrow and block blood flow. These plaques increase the risks of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and coronary artery disease.

Good Versus Bad Cholesterol

The distinction between “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol” is a fundamental compass for understanding cardiovascular health. The HDL cholesterol levels play a vital role in our well-being by scavenging excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and transporting it to the liver for elimination. This prevents the buildup of plaque in the arterial walls. Low-density cholesterol causes these buildups and narrow arteries, which can lead to health complications. 

Is There a Connection?

There isn’t much evidence supporting the claim that high cholesterol causes headaches. While people with high cholesterol might experience headaches, it is important to remember that correlation does not imply causation. Headaches can be incredibly complex and multifactorial, resulting from a combination of genetics, lifestyle factors, and other medical conditions. Headaches are not a commonly listed symptom of high cholesterol. 

Possible Indirect Influences

While having higher cholesterol levels may not directly cause headaches, it is worth considering whether any indirect influences could contribute to headache occurrences. One is how high cholesterol is a risk factor for overall vascular health problems.

High cholesterol can restrict blood flow to various parts of the body, such as the brain, with the formulation of plaque in the bloodstream. Reduced blood flow to the brain can trigger headaches and migraines. This lack of blood flow can also lead to strokes, leading to major headaches. 

Some people with high cholesterol may also experience headaches as a side effect of medications used to manage cholesterol levels. However, this varies based on the individual. 

man having his heart tested by a doctor

Managing Headaches and High Cholesterol

If you’ve been experiencing frequent headaches and are concerned about your cholesterol levels, you should consult a medical professional. A comprehensive evaluation to measure your cholesterol and triglyceride levels can help determine whether high cholesterol contributes to your headaches or if there’s an underlying condition that needs attention. 

For managing high cholesterol, doctors often recommend lifestyle changes such as adopting a heart-healthy diet (such as consuming less saturated fats), increasing physical activity, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

When it comes to managing headaches, identifying triggers is important. Keeping a diary might be beneficial to track patterns and potential triggers. Common headache triggers include stress, dehydration, lack of sleep, certain foods, hormonal changes, and weather changes. 

Headache Relief at CLS Health

So, can high cholesterol cause headaches? While high cholesterol is a health concern that should be taken seriously, there has yet to be a direct link between the two. The complex nature of headaches suggests that they’re influenced by several factors, with high cholesterol potentially contributing in specific cases due to its impact on vascular health. 

We advise you to seek medical attention if you’re experiencing frequent headaches, especially if they’re severe or accompanied by other concerning symptoms. If you’re local to the Houston area, our physicians at CLS Health can help address the root causes of your headaches and help manage and improve your overall well-being. Visit our website today for more information.

By CLS Health

CLS Health is a physician-owned comprehensive care group with over 33 locations and 160+ providers throughout the Houston area.

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