High Cholesterol

What is high cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that is found in the blood and cells of the body. While some cholesterol is necessary for the body to function properly, too much cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. High cholesterol is a condition in which there is too much cholesterol in the blood.


Who's at risk for high cholesterol?

Anyone can develop high cholesterol, but certain populations may be at higher risk, including:

  • People with a family history of high cholesterol
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • People who eat a diet high in saturated and trans fats
  • People who have a sedentary lifestyle
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease


What causes high cholesterol?

The exact cause of high cholesterol is often unknown, but risk factors may include genetic factors, lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity, and underlying medical conditions.


How does high cholesterol start?

High cholesterol may not have any symptoms, which is why it is often called a "silent" condition. When symptoms do occur, they may include yellowish bumps on the skin, known as xanthomas.


What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?

The symptoms of high cholesterol may vary, but may include:

  • Xanthomas (yellowish bumps on the skin)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs


How is high cholesterol diagnosed?

Diagnosing high cholesterol typically involves a blood test to measure the levels of different types of cholesterol in the blood, including LDL ("bad") cholesterol and HDL ("good") cholesterol. If high cholesterol is detected, additional tests may be done to assess any damage to the heart and blood vessels.


How can high cholesterol be treated?

Treatment for high cholesterol may involve lifestyle modifications, such as following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking, as well as medications to help lower cholesterol levels. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan based on individual needs.


What complications may occur with high cholesterol?

Complications of high cholesterol may include:

  • Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems
  • Narrowing or blockage of the arteries
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Heart attack


How can I prevent high cholesterol?

Taking steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as following a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress, may help reduce the risk of developing high cholesterol. It is also important to get regular cholesterol checks and work with a healthcare provider to manage any underlying medical conditions.


Long-term management of high cholesterol

People with high cholesterol may require ongoing medical care and monitoring to manage their condition and prevent future complications. This may involve regular use of medications to lower cholesterol, as well as lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of complications.


What is recent research saying about high cholesterol?

Recent research in high cholesterol has focused on improving prevention, diagnosis, and management of the condition, as well as identifying new treatment options and risk factors. Some of the promising areas of research include:

  • Investigation of the impact of diet and lifestyle changes on cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health
  • Exploration of the use of new medications and therapies to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of complications
  • Identification of new genetic factors and biomarkers that may help predict and prevent high cholesterol and related health problems


Where can I go for more information on high cholesterol?

If you or someone you know has high cholesterol or wants more information on the condition, it is important to seek help from a healthcare provider who specializes in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The following organizations also provide information and resources on high cholesterol: