Cholesterol Home > High Cholesterol

Your body needs cholesterol to function properly; high cholesterol, however, can cause health problems. It can cause a condition called atherosclerosis, the effects of which include coronary heart disease, angina, and stroke. Although the causes of increased cholesterol are often unknown, risk factors include diet, weight, and heredity. If lifestyle changes alone are not enough, medication may be necessary to lower cholesterol.

What Is High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat that is made in your body. It is also in some foods that you eat. Your body needs some cholesterol to work the right way; however, if too much cholesterol gets into your blood, it can cause problems. This is known as high cholesterol. High cholesterol is also known as:
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperlipidemia.

What Causes It?

Your blood cholesterol level is affected not only by what you eat, but also by how quickly your body makes cholesterol and gets rid of it. In fact, your body makes most of the cholesterol it needs, and it is not necessary to take in any additional cholesterol from the foods you eat.
So then how do you get high cholesterol? Unfortunately, most of the time, there is no specific answer to that question. Yet while doctors and scientists do not know the specific causes of high cholesterol, they have identified certain factors that can increase a person's chances of developing it. These factors include:
  • Diet
  • Weight
  • Physical activity
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Heredity.


(Click Causes of High Cholesterol for more information.)

Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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