What causes high cholesterol?

Diet. Eating an excessive amount of saturated fat and cholesterol can raise your cholesterol. Saturated fat and cholesterol are in foods that come from animals (such as beef, pork, veal, milk, eggs, butter, and cheese), many packaged foods, stick margarine, vegetable shortening, and snack foods like cookies, crackers, and chips.


Many things can cause high cholesterol, including:

Diet. Eating an excessive amount of saturated fat and cholesterol can raise your cholesterol. Saturated fat and cholesterol are in foods that come from animals (such as beef, pork, veal, milk, eggs, butter, and cheese), many packaged foods, stick margarine, vegetable shortening, and snack foods like cookies, crackers, and chips.

Weight. Being overweight may raise triglycerides and lower “good” HDL.

Activity level. Not exercising may raise “bad” LDL and lower HDL.

Overall health. Diseases like hypothyroidism can raise cholesterol. Smoking may lower HDL. 

Age. Cholesterol starts to rise after age 20. In men, it always levels off after age 50. In women, it stays fairly low until menopause. then, cholesterol levels rise to about equivalent levels as in men.

Family. Some people inherit a rare disease called a lipid disorder. It can cause very high total cholesterol, very low HDL, and high triglycerides. If you've got this problem, you'll get to start treatment at a young age.

How is high cholesterol diagnosed?

Doctors use a biopsy to see cholesterol.

A fasting cholesterol test (also called a lipoprotein analysis) is that the most complete test. It measures total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. you can't have food for 9 to 12 hours before this test.

A simple cholesterol test can measure total cholesterol and HDL. you'll eat before this test. Sometimes doctors do that test first. If it shows you've got high cholesterol or low HDL, then you'll get a fasting cholesterol test.

How is it treated?

The two main treatments are lifestyle changes and medicines. The goal of treatment is to lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol and reduce your risk of an attack. you'll also get to raise your "good" HDL cholesterol. A high level of HDL helps reduce your risk of heart problems.

Some lifestyle changes are important for everybody with high cholesterol. Your doctor will probably want you to:

Follow the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet. The goal is to scale back the quantity of saturated fat you eat. Eating saturated fat raises your cholesterol. The TLC diet helps you learn to form better food choices by picking lean meats, low-fat or nonfat products, and good fats like olive and canola oils.

Lose weight, if you would like to. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds (2.3 to 4.5 kilograms) can lower your cholesterol and triglycerides. Losing weight also can help lower your vital sign.

Be more active. Exercise can raise your “good” HDL and should assist you to control your weight.

Quit smoking, if you smoke. Quitting can help raise your HDL and improve your heart health.

Sometimes lifestyle changes are enough on their own. But if you are trying them for a couple of months and that they don't lower your cholesterol enough, your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medicine called a statin. you furthermore may have medicines to lower triglycerides or raise HDL.

You may get to start taking medicine directly if your cholesterol is extremely high or if you've got another problem that increases your chance of getting an attack. people that have a high risk of attack enjoy taking higher doses of statins to lower their LDL cholesterol the maximum amount as possible. The more these people can lower their LDL, the less likely they're to possess an attack. to seek out out your risk, use this Interactive Tool: Are You in danger for a Heart Attack?

It is important to require your medicine just the way your doctor tells you to. If you stop taking your medicine, your cholesterol will return up.

You will get to have your cholesterol checked regularly. Your results can help your doctor know if lifestyle changes have helped or if you would like more or different medicines.