Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that is present in all parts of the body, including the nervous system, skin, muscle, liver, intestines, and heart. It is made in the body by the liver and is also obtained from animal products in the diet. Cholesterol is needed for normal body functions including the production of hormones, bile acid, and vitamin D. Excessive cholesterol in the blood contributes to atherosclerosis and subsequent heart disease. The risk of developing heart disease or atherosclerosis increases as the level of blood cholesterol increases.
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.