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High Cholesterol

High Cholesterol

Definition

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:

  • Low density lipoproteins (LDL)—causes build up of cholesterol and other fats in the blood vessels. Known as bad cholesterol because high levels can cause disease in the arteries and heart disease.
  • High density lipoproteins (HDL)—can remove cholesterol and other fats from the blood. Known as good cholesterol because it may protect against heart disease.

Causes

Causes of high cholesterol include:

  • Genetics
  • High-fat diet
  • Excess weight
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Risk Factors

The risk of high cholesterol increases with age. It is more common in men. It is also more common in women after menopause.

Factors that may increase your risk of high cholesterol include:

  • Family members with high cholesterol
  • High-fat diet
  • Excess weight
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Symptoms

It is rare for high cholesterol to cause symptoms. However, high cholesterol can increase your risk of atherosclerosis, a dangerous hardening of the arteries. It can block the flow of blood. Some complications of atherosclerosis include:

  • Chest pains—angina
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral artery disease

Some people with high cholesterol may also have cholesterol deposits in tendons, under the eyes, or in the eye.

Atherosclerosis
atherosclerosis
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Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will be asked 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:

  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol
  • LDL cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

Other tests may be done to look for other conditions that can be associated with high cholesterol levels.

Treatment

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:

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting high cholesterol, follow the lifestyle and nutrition changes above.

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