Overview

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that's found in the fats (lipids) in your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to continue building healthy cells, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

When you have high cholesterol, you may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Your heart may not get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke.

High cholesterol can be inherited, but it's often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, and thus preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can go a long way toward reducing high cholesterol.

Feb. 09, 2016
References
  1. What is cholesterol? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc. Accessed Jan. 13, 2016.
  2. Cholesterol. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/about.htm. Accessed Jan. 14, 2016.
  3. About cholesterol. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/About-Cholesterol_UCM_001220_Article.jsp#.VpbEathIiic. Accessed Jan. 13, 2016.
  4. Goldman L, et al., eds. Disorders of lipid metabolism. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 13, 2016.
  5. Why cholesterol matters. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/WhyCholesterolMatters/Why-Cholesterol-Matters_UCM_001212_Article.jsp#.VpfWZNhIiic. Accessed Jan. 14, 2016.
  6. Vjian S. Screening for lipid disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 14, 2016.
  7. AskMayoExpert. Lifestyle measures for prevention of coronary artery disease (adult). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  8. Cholesterol. Lab Tests Online. American Association for Clinical Chemistry. https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/cholesterol. Accessed Jan. 15, 2015.
  9. Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents. Bethesda, Md.: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cvd_ped/index.htm. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
  10. Rosenson RS. Treatment of lipids (including hypercholesterolemia) in secondary prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 15, 2016.
  11. Drug therapy for cholesterol. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Drug-Therapy-for-Cholesterol_UCM_305632_Article.jsp#.Vpkg59hIiic. Accessed Jan. 15, 2016.
  12. Praluent (prescribing information). Bridgewater, N.J.: Sanofi-Aventis; Tarrytown, N.Y.: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; 2015. http://www.regeneron.com/Praluent/Praluent-fpi.pdf. Accessed July 28, 2015.
  13. Repatha (prescribing information). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Amgen Inc.; 2015. http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7414054-amgen-repatha-fda-approval/links/7414054-repatha-pi-hcp-english.pdf. Accessed Aug. 28, 2015.
  14. The HPS2-THRIVE Collaborative Group. Effects of extended-release niacin with laropiprant in high-risk patients. New England Journal of Medicine. 2014;371:203.
  15. Dyslipidemia in children: Management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 15, 2016.
  16. Natural medicines in the clinical management of hyperlipidemia. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  17. Cholesterol management at a glance. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/cholesterol/at-a-glance. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  18. Know your fats. American Heart Association. http://health.gov/paguidelines/factsheetprof.aspx. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  19. At-a-glance: A fact sheet for professionals. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://health.gov/paguidelines/factsheetprof.aspx. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  20. Lopez-Jimenez F (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 22, 2016.
  21. Rong y, et al. Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: Dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal. 2013;346:e8539.