(Cholesterol, High; Hypercholesterolemia)
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Cholesterol is a type of lipid in the blood. High cholesterol is an abnormally high level of cholesterol in the blood.
There are different types of cholesterol in your blood including:
Causes of high cholesterol include:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase your risk of high cholesterol include:
It is rare for high cholesterol to cause symptoms. However, high cholesterol can increase your risk of atherosclerosis. This is a dangerous hardening of the arteries. It can block the flow of blood. Some complications of atherosclerosis include:
Some people with high cholesterol may also have cholesterol deposits in tendons, under the eyes, or in the eye.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor will ask about factors that may increase your risk of heart disease or stroke.
A blood test will also be done. Blood will be sent to a lab to measure lipid levels in your blood. Tests may include:
Your doctor may do other tests to look for other conditions that can be associated with high cholesterol levels.
Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment is aimed at decreasing your LDL cholesterol levels and decreasing your risk for heart disease and stroke. Options include:
Talk to your doctor about the best meal plan for you. Consider the following changes:
These medicines are best used as additions to diet and exercise. They should not be use in place of healthy lifestyle changes.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Cholesterol. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.o.... Accessed March 22, 2013.
Explore high cholesterol. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/. Updated September 19, 2012. Accessed March 22. 2013.
Hypercholesterolemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 7, 2013. Accessed March 22, 2013.
Lipid-lowering pharmacotherapy overview. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated March 3, 2013. Accessed March 22, 2013.
Third report of the expert panel on detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). National Cholesterol Education Program website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cholesterol/index.htm. Updated 2004. Accessed March 22, 2013.
12/14/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Ferdowsian HR, Barnard ND. Effects of plant-based diets on plasma lipids. Am J Cardiol. 2009;104(7):947-956.
Last reviewed February 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 3/22/2013