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Each year more than 750,000 Americans suffer a stroke. Strokes are often caused by unhealthy cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that circulates, but does not dissolve, in the blood. If a person has too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol, it can slowly build up in the wall of the arteries. Eventually this buildup forms a thick, hard plaque that narrows the arteries. If one of these plaques ruptures, it causes a blot clot to form, which can block normal blood flow to the brain and lead to a stroke.