High cholesterol

Other names: Cholesterol, high blood, Hypercholesterolemia

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the fats in your blood. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease by causing fatty deposits in your blood vessels, reducing blood flow and increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It can be inherited or result from unhealthy lifestyle choices.


High cholesterol usually has no symptoms and can only be detected through a blood test.


It's recommended to have a baseline cholesterol test at age 20 and regular follow-ups every five years. More frequent tests may be needed based on family history or other risk factors.


Cholesterol is carried in the blood by lipoproteins like LDL (bad cholesterol), VLDL, and HDL (good cholesterol). Lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, obesity, and genetic makeup can affect cholesterol levels.


Risk factors for high cholesterol include smoking, obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, and conditions like diabetes.


High cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, chest pain (angina), heart attacks, and strokes due to reduced blood flow in arteries.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Before seeing your doctor for a cholesterol check, be aware of any restrictions before the test, write down symptoms or family history, bring a list of medications, and prepare questions for your doctor.

Tests and Diagnosis

A lipid panel test measures total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Interpretation of results is based on guidelines for ideal levels of each type of cholesterol.


Interpreting the Numbers

Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or millimoles per liter (mmol/L) of blood. Lowering LDL cholesterol is crucial for reducing the risk of heart disease.


  1. What are the different types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol?


  1. What lifestyle factors can contribute to high LDL cholesterol?

Inactivity, obesity, unhealthy diet

  1. What are the risks associated with high cholesterol?

Heart disease, stroke

  1. How often should one have a baseline cholesterol test?

At age 20 and then every five years

  1. What are common medications used to lower cholesterol levels?

Statins, bile-acid-binding resins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors

  1. How do lifestyle changes help in managing high cholesterol?

Exercise and healthy diet can reduce cholesterol levels.

  1. What are some complications of high cholesterol?

Atherosclerosis leading to heart attacks and strokes.

  1. How does smoking impact cholesterol levels?

Smoking can lower HDL (good) cholesterol.

  1. What is the role of triglycerides in relation to high cholesterol?

High triglycerides can increase the risk of heart disease.

  1. Why is it important to monitor LDL levels in high-risk individuals?

Lowering LDL is crucial for preventing heart disease.

Remember that managing high cholesterol involves lifestyle changes and sometimes medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Regular monitoring and adherence to treatment plans are essential for maintaining heart health.