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Learn Your Lipids answeredUnhealthy lipid levels can increase your risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death for American men and women. In fact, diseases of the heart alone cause more than 30 percent of all deaths in the U.S., many more than all cancers combined. The most dangerous of the heart diseases is atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries.” It’s a buildup of the waxy deposits from cholesterol, called plaque, that can narrow your arteries and prevent oxygen from getting to your heart. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, and even death.