Can High Cholesterol Cause Dizziness?

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What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?

High cholesterol¹ has no symptoms. However, it is related to the development of multiple metabolic diseases,² which all have symptoms. So, if you know you have high cholesterol and are noticing some symptoms, it may be a sign of another condition. 

Some conditions high cholesterol is related to include heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of heart disease, cardiac arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat), and stroke³ can include dizziness and lightheadedness. Symptoms of diabetes, specifically hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, can also include lightheadedness. 

Does high cholesterol cause dizziness?

No, high cholesterol doesn’t directly cause dizziness. In some cases, high cholesterol levels can potentially contribute to the development of other conditions which can cause dizziness. 

What are other health problems linked to dizziness?

Dizziness can be related to several health conditions and is a very common⁴ symptom. The symptoms of dizziness can be vague and hard to describe, so it is often hard to know what’s causing you to feel like this. There are four main types⁵ of dizziness, and each can signify different health problems. 

Vertigo

Vertigo causes spinning or a false sense of motion, and it can sometimes include changes to your hearing or vision. It’s the most common cause of dizziness in those who go to the doctor because of their symptoms.

Disequilibrium

This form of dizziness makes you feel off-balance and unsteady on your feet. It can be a symptom of many health problems, including:

  • Stroke or heart attack

  • Poor vision⁶

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Peripheral neuropathy:⁷ Sensation loss in your extremities, often due to uncontrolled diabetes

  • An uneven gait

  • Some medications, including benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants

Presyncope

Feeling like you are about to pass out is called presyncope and could be related to various heart conditions. You may feel like you’re going to pass out because you have an irregular heartbeat or because you are having a heart attack. Another important cause of presyncope is orthostatic hypotension—often described as feeling dizzy from standing up too quickly. Standing up too quickly can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and less blood flow to your brain, causing you to feel like you will pass out. 

Several things can cause orthostatic hypotension, including: 

  • Dehydration⁸

  • Alcohol abuse

  • Heart conditions

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Medications

    • Heart medications

    • Parkinson’s disease medications

    • Diuretics, which can cause dehydration

Lightheadedness

Lightheadedness is when you have vague dizziness symptoms, often related to anxiety and depression or hyperventilation. 

Due to the vague nature of dizziness symptoms, this is not an exhaustive list of health problems linked to feeling dizzy. Some problems, such as head trauma, whiplash, and concussion,⁹ can have symptoms ranging from vertigo to lightheadedness. 

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a specific type of dizziness characterized by a spinning sensation, nausea, vomiting, and ringing in the ears. It is common to feel like the room is spinning or like you are moving when in reality, you are sitting still. 

Inner ear problems cause vertigo. The inner ear plays a significant role in how you perceive your environment. It relays information about sounds to your brain and maintains your balance. So, if something is disrupting your inner ear, as with vertigo, your perception of sound, vision, and balance gets distorted. 

People will experience vertigo differently. You may experience a loss of hearing along with head spinning, or you may experience head spinning alone. It’s common to get vertigo in random short episodes (episodic vertigo) where it comes and goes. It’s also common to experience prolonged periods of symptoms (persistent vertigo.) 

Common causes of vertigo include infections in the organs or nerves within your ear, Ménière's disease, and migrainous vertigo—vertigo accompanied by migraines. Head injuries can also cause vertigo, a common symptom of whiplash and concussion. 

Is there a link between vertigo and high cholesterol?

Some research¹⁰ has found that people with vertigo also often have high cholesterol. This suggests a link between the two, and high cholesterol may be a risk factor for dizziness and vertigo. 

Evidence demonstrates a link between vertigo and metabolic diseases,¹¹ to which high cholesterol is also related. There is currently no clear picture of how these all relate to each other—or if they relate at all—and we need more research to find this out. 

When you should see a doctor

Dizziness can be scary and debilitating. If you are experiencing any symptoms of dizziness that are causing you to worry or feel unsafe, consult a health professional. 

It can also be a sign of a severe medical event such as a stroke or heart attack. If you suddenly feel unwell and are experiencing any other symptoms related to a stroke or heart attack, call 911 immediately. 

Stroke warning signs: 

  • Drooping one side of the face

  • Weakness and numbness on one side of the body (commonly in the arm or leg)

  • Trouble speaking, slurred speech

  • Confusion

  • Trouble seeing

  • Dizziness

Heart attack warning signs: 

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest discomfort

  • Nausea

  • Cold sweats

  • Dizziness 

The lowdown

High cholesterol won’t be the direct cause of your dizziness, but your cholesterol could contribute to the underlying cause. Vertigo is the most common cause of dizziness. 

Many health problems and medications can cause different symptoms of dizziness, some of which may be as simple as dehydration. Others can be serious health conditions such as heart disease.

Contact your healthcare provider for evaluation if you’re concerned about dizziness.

Have you considered clinical trials for Cholesterol?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Cholesterol, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

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