Can High Cholesterol Cause Headaches? Unveiling the Connection

Can High Cholesterol Cause Headaches? Unveiling the Connection

Can High Cholesterol Cause Headaches? What to Know

High cholesterol can leave your body with a lot of ailments and discomforts. It’s a major contributor to heart health. Many of us experience headaches from time to time and it’s often been asked if high cholesterol causes headaches. Headaches can be caused for many different reasons and it is quite possible that if you have high cholesterol you will face headaches or dizziness because of it.

Understanding how high cholesterol impacts your health is incredibly important. Tying together various symptoms and how they may relate to cholesterol will help you better handle those health concerns and manage how they affect your life. Read more below about high cholesterol and headaches.

A meal consisting of vegetables and quinoa, plated

Understanding Cholesterol

Our bodies have natural fat in them and the liver produces a certain amount of cholesterol. Our bodies have LDL, HDL, and triglycerides, which are all parts of our cholesterol levels. Ultimately, you should strive to have high HDL low LDL, and triglycerides for optimal cholesterol health.

While the liver naturally produces cholesterol, we also contribute to those levels with our diet. Foods that come from animals are often high in cholesterols and certain fats, which raise LDL levels. Those foods include things like meat and dairy. Lean meats are not as high and are a much better choice for cholesterol health.

Just because you eat a lot of meat or a lot of dairy doesn’t mean you will automatically have high cholesterol. It certainly can have an impact, but all of our bodies are different and we react in different ways to these foods. Another element that might impact high cholesterol is how often you eat these foods and how much you consume as well.

A balanced diet with mindfulness of how much you consume and making overall healthy choices is the best and most natural way to regulate your cholesterol levels.

What About High Cholesterol?

When you hear the term “high cholesterol” it is referring to elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. These are the “bad” cholesterol. While your body still needs them and they will always be there, they are the types of cholesterol that you want to maintain at a lower rate as much as possible.

There are many elements that can contribute to high cholesterol. Most of these elements relate to health or diet in some way. These are some things that may contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol:

  • A diet rich in fat
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Age
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Sedentary lifestyles
  • Obesity
  • Pre-existing conditions

You will notice that several of these things can be controlled or maintained through a change in your habits. For example, if you have excess cholesterol and you are a heavy smoker, you can work to reduce smoking. However, there are times when people are more prone to high cholesterol levels and don’t have much control. 

These are the people affected by genetics or conditions they experience in life, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, autoimmune diseases, and more. High cholesterol can lead to coronary artery disease, chest pain, heart attacks, and other issues. 

We NEED cholesterol in our bodies. It’s necessary for several bodily functions and important hormonal productions. We even need LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. However, what we don’t need is for those numbers to be too high as that can have significant negative impacts on our health.

Elevated bad cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other ailments. High cholesterol is most closely related to cardiovascular health and can elevate your blood pressure or cause a buildup of plaque in your arteries. These ailments directly impact other areas of your health.

While high cholesterol may contribute to headaches in some cases, it's essential to consider other potential causes too. The lifestyle factors we mentioned here, genetics, and other health conditions could all be contributing factors when attempting to diagnose where a headache is coming from.

Can High Cholesterol Cause Headaches? Breaking It Down

All of this brings us back to the question can high cholesterol cause headaches? While high cholesterol may not be the exact trigger of a headache, it does directly impact parts of your health that can cause headaches. There is a direct correlation between the two.

Let it be known that high cholesterol will not always cause headaches. Likewise, not every headache comes from high cholesterol. Making that distinction is important here. What we do know is that high cholesterol can lead to various side effects depending on the person. In addition, we know that it greatly impacts your body over time and your heart health too.

There are clinical studies that suggest headaches and high cholesterol can be related and these are the reasons why:

  • Reduced blood flow
  • Hypertension
  • Inflammation
  • Medication effects

Here’s the thing. While cholesterol may not have a direct effect on your headaches, there is a direct correlation between headaches and many factors that are affected by high cholesterol. Let’s dive in further.

Reduced Blood Flow

One of the most known side effects of high cholesterol levels is a condition known as atherosclerosis. This condition comes from plaque that builds up in your arteries. When plaque builds up, the blood cannot flow as freely as it should or would otherwise be able to. The restricted blood flow can happen in any area of your body.

The trigger for a headache occurs when the buildup restricts blood flowing to your brain. If blood cannot adequately flow to the brain, the brain doesn’t get the oxygen and nutrients that it so desperately needs. The result of that restriction is often a headache. Reduced blood flow can be a certain trigger to headaches and that is often directly related to high cholesterol.


Hypertension is another cardiovascular ailment. The most common form of hypertension is high blood pressure, but there are other associated risk factors as well. When you are plagued by hypertension, your blood vessels experience a lot of change. That change may affect their functionality as well as the structure of how they work.

Hypertension is often linked to migraines but can cause regular headaches as well. With hypertension and high blood pressure, headaches are one of the most common symptoms. How is this connected? Well, hypertension is often caused by high cholesterol.


Inflammation is a terrible thing and it can cause a lot of health issues. Someone who experiences chronic inflammation often finds themselves feeling miserable in different ways. When you experience inflammation, it causes increased signals from the affected part of your body.

Inflammation is a common cause of headaches and a common side effect of high cholesterol. Once again, this relates closely to cardiovascular health, but it could also be in connection to autoimmune disorders and other issues. Inflammation is often a symptom of atherosclerosis, which is related to high cholesterol levels.

Medication Effects

Finally, some headaches are caused by medication, particularly medication prescribed to treat high cholesterol. In this case, it may not be the high cholesterol that triggers your headache, but there is a direct correlation between how you are feeling and that headache that is making you miserable.

Statins are notorious for causing headaches and are one of the most common cholesterol medications on the market. The headache is a direct side effect of the medication, but not everyone will experience headaches from taking said medication. That being said, even if you do experience headaches, the benefits of lowering your cholesterol are typically much better and well worth risking the occasional headache you may have to suffer through.

Are Migraines Linked to High Cholesterol?

Migraines are a severe type of headache that often leave people out of commission. Just like there are mixed details as to whether high cholesterol causes headaches, the same can be said of migraines. However, there are many disorders related to high cholesterol that can cause migraines so it is possible for there to be a correlation between the two.

More recent studies have found that intense migraines are most often related to elevated LDL cholesterol levels. However, the question is whether the migraines were causing higher cholesterol levels or whether the higher cholesterol perhaps contributed to the migraines.

Another study ruled that migraines with aura were much more likely to be associated with high cholesterol levels, specifically in relation to your triglyceride level. There is still much to discover, but it’s clear that some health ailments related to high cholesterol can potentially contribute to migraines as well.

Common Symptoms of High Cholesterol

How do you know if your headache could be related to high cholesterol? Well, it depends. Did you know that there are actually high-cholesterol headaches? However, it is important to note that the identifying factor in this case is typically related to another ailment that caused the headache but could be impacted by high cholesterol.

These are some of the most common cholesterol symptoms:

  • Xanthelasma (an eye condition)
  • Fatigue and exhaustion from angina chest pain, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol plaque buildup, etc.
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches from related conditions
  • Unusual tingling sensations

If you are concerned about the possibility of high levels of cholesterol and headaches being related, speak with your healthcare professional. They can help you work through the necessary steps to improve your health and go through any necessary testing for diagnostic purposes.

Keep in mind that if you are experiencing headaches and you have high cholesterol, there is likely some sort of underlying condition that is ultimately responsible for these headaches. Don’t ignore your headaches as they could be a signal of bigger problems.

Final Thoughts

High cholesterol levels can impact health issues that cause headaches. When asking the question, does high cholesterol cause headaches, it is important to know that while they may be related, the headaches are usually caused by another issue. High cholesterol has been tied to things like hypertension, inflammation, and reduced blood flow, which can all cause headaches to occur.

The best way to moderate headaches is to determine the source and work with a healthcare professional to take necessary cholesterol supplements or adjust lifestyle habits to help eradicate or reduce your headaches. When you determine what is contributing to your headaches and work against that, you can improve your cholesterol levels and other health ailments simultaneously.

Manage your cholesterol and promote a healthy heart with our supplement choices. We have several different options that contribute to healthy cholesterol, a healthy heart, and better overall health.

The cholesterol support bundle, including lipid, omega 3, and heart

The information being presented in this blog is intended to be used as educational or resource information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from your healthcare provider. This content should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider. You should call 911 for all medical emergencies. Revive MD is not liable for any advice or information provided on this blog, which advice or information is provided on an “as-is” basis, and assumes no liability for diagnosis, treatment, decisions, or actions made in reliance upon any advice or information contained on this blog. No warranties, express or implied, are made on the information that is provided.

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