High cholesterol


Cholesterol, a waxy substance present in the bloodstream, plays a vital role in constructing healthy cells. However, elevated cholesterol levels can amplify the risk of heart disease. The surplus lipids can accumulate within arteries and interact with other compounds in the blood, leading to the formation of plaquefatty deposits. Although this plaque may remain asymptomatic, it progressively grows within arteries, eventually impeding sufficient blood flow. In some cases, these deposits can rupture suddenly, causing blood clots that trigger heart attacks or strokes. Detecting high cholesterol requires a blood test. 

While hereditary factors can contribute, high cholesterol predominantly arises from unhealthy lifestyle decisions, making it both preventable and manageable. A balanced diet, regular physical activity, and occasional medication can all contribute to lowering high cholesterol levels.  


High cholesterol typically lacks noticeable symptoms and becomes apparent when it triggers other health issues. Detection relies on a blood test. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the first cholesterol screening is recommended between ages 9 and 11, with subsequent tests every five years. For men aged 45 to 65 and women aged 55 to 65, screenings every 1 to 2 years are advised. Individuals over 65 should undergo annual cholesterol tests. Doctors may suggest more frequent tests if results are unfavorable or if risk factors like family history, heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure are present. 


Cholesterol travels in your bloodstream attached to proteins, forming lipoproteins. These come in different types: 

  • Lowdensity lipoprotein (LDL) carries cholesterol throughout the body and is considered badbecause it can lead to artery buildup. 
  • Highdensity lipoprotein (HDL) is goodas it collects excess cholesterol and returns it to the liver.

Triglycerides, a blood fat, are also measured in lipid profiles and high levels raise heart disease risk. You can manage cholesterol through exercise, diet, and weight, while genetics also influence how your body handles cholesterol. 

Unhealthy cholesterol levels can arise due to medical conditions like: 

  • Chronic kidney disease 
  • Diabetes 
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Lupus

Certain medications for other health issues can also worsen cholesterol levels, including those for: 

  • Acne 
  • Cancer 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Irregular heart rhythms 
  • Organ transplants 

Risk factors  

Risk factors contributing to the development of unhealthy cholesterol levels includes the following:  

  • Age: Unhealthy cholesterol levels can affect anyone, but they are more common in people over the age of 40. The liver’s ability to flush LDL cholesterol from the body decreases with age.  
  • Poor diet: Consuming excessive amounts of saturated fat or trans fats can lead to the emergence of unhealthy cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are frequently found in fatty meat cuts and products made with whole milk. In prepackaged snacks or desserts, trans fats are usually present.  
  • Smoking or tobacco use: Smoking cigarettes may cause HDL, or good,cholesterol, to drop, and increase the badcholesterol.  
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption in excess might raise the total cholesterol level.  
  • Obesity: A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher increases the risk of high cholesterol. 
  • Lack of exercise: Engaging in exercise assists in raising your body’s levels of HDL, often referred to as the good,cholesterol.  
  • Stress: The body produces cholesterol due to stress that triggers the hormones of the body to change.