Definition

You have this condition if there are high levels of cholesterol in the blood. There are three parts of cholesterol:

  • Low density lipoproteins (LDL)—known as bad cholesterol. It causes build up of cholesterol and other fats in the body. High LDL levels can cause artery and heart disease.
  • High density lipoproteins (HDL)—known as good cholesterol. It can remove cholesterol and other fats from the body. High levels of HDL can protect against heart disease.
  • Triglycerides—a common form of fat in the body.

Causes

Causes of high cholesterol include:

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of high cholesterol:

  • Age: cholesterol levels tend to rise with age
  • Sex:
  • Family members with high cholesterol
  • High-fat diet
  • Obesity , overweight
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Symptoms

The condition itself will rarely cause any symptoms. If not treated, it often leads to atherosclerosis . This is a dangerous hardening of the arteries. It can end up blocking blood flow through arteries. In severe cases, this may result in:

If you have an inherited form of high cholesterol, cholesterol deposits in the:

  • Tendons
  • Under the eyes
  • Around the cornea

Atherosclerosis

atherosclerosis
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Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. These tests are used to measure the cholesterol levels in your blood:

  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol
  • LDL cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

Treatment

Treatment may include:

Lifestyle Changes

Cholesterol-Lowering Medication

If diet and exercise do not work, you may need medication. Examples include:

Statins are often prescribed for high cholesterol. They have been shown to reduce mortality (death) and heart attacks . Ezetimibe has reduced plaque in arteries. However, it has not been shown to reduce mortality.

Some may have a high risk for coronary artery disease . In this case, combination therapy may be needed to lower LDL.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting high cholesterol, follow the lifestyle changes above. Work with your doctor to monitor and control your cholesterol levels.