High Cholesterol

Many don't know they have this major risk factor for heart disease.

JoAnne M. Foody, MD, FACC, CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief
Learn more about High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that travels through the blood. In and of itself, cholesterol isn’t bad. It actually helps create the outer coating of our cells and aids the body in making vitamin D and certain hormones.

Your body makes the cholesterol it needs. But you also get it in your diet (for example, full-fat dairy products, fried foods and fatty meat). Too much cholesterol can be dangerous. That’s because over time cholesterol and fat can build in the inner walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This can cause a narrowing of the arteries (see atherosclerosis), which is a major cause of heart disease.

If you have high cholesterol, you’re certainly not alone. It will affect roughly half of all men and a third of all women at some point in their lives. The good news is that high cholesterol is often preventable and treatable. Adopting a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and, in some cases, taking medication can go a long way to help lower your cholesterol and protect your heart.

Use this condition center to learn more about high cholesterol. You can also chat online with other people like you, keep up with the latest research, and get tips to help your cholesterol in check.

High Cholesterol News & Events

Tour de France Riders Live Longer, Study Finds

Sep 24, 2013
Elite cyclists live longer and have lower risk of death compared to average adults.

Healthy Obesity: An Oxymoron?

Sep 24, 2013
Being more physically fit, having a smaller waistline and having normal blood sugar may help protect some obese individuals from chronic diseases.

Registry Program Sheds Light on Quality of Care

Sep 23, 2013
A report on data from the National Cardiovascular Data Registry highlights success stories and areas of improvement in cardiovascular care.

Sudden Cardiac Death Risk Low Among High School Athletes

Sep 23, 2013
Study urges against widespread screenings to help prevent sudden cardiac death in young athletes.

Does It Cost More to Eat Healthy?

Sep 17, 2013
Increased food costs discourage adults from adhering to blood pressure-lowering diet, according to a recent study.

Innovative Anti-Smoking Campaign a Success

Sep 11, 2013
First federally funded anti-smoking campaign helps smokers quit with tips from former smokers.

E-Cigarettes: Helping Smokers Quit?

Sep 10, 2013
Study finds e-cigarettes are more effective than patches in helping smokers kick the habit for good.

Coca-Cola Family Track Walk in Chicago

Sep 04, 2013
Members of the American College of Cardiology's CardioSmart team will be at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 15 to share tips on heart health and the benefits of an active lifestyle.

Medication Adherence Lowers Heart Disease Risk

Aug 12, 2013
Taking heart medications properly greatly reduces risk for complications and death, study finds.

Caloric Intake of Obese Children is Underestimated

Aug 12, 2013
Study uses model to show obese children consume significantly more calories each day than healthy children.

Study Highlights Need For More AEDs

Aug 09, 2013
Availability of life-saving devices must be widespread in public places.

Echocardiograms Unnecessary for the General Population

Jul 30, 2013
Study finds that a useful heart test has negligible benefit for healthy patients without a family history of heart disease.

Small Restaurants Have Calorie-Packed Items, Too

Jul 30, 2013
Meals from non-chain or small-chain restaurants typically have higher calorie content than their fast-food peers.

Sodium Levels Remain High in Popular Foods

Jul 30, 2013
Study finds little progress in reducing sodium levels of common processed and restaurant foods since 2005.

Noisy Airports May Impact Heart Health of Nearby Residents

Jul 23, 2013
Study shows noise from planes may disrupt sleep, worsening cardiovascular health.

Experts Recognize Obesity as a Disease

Jul 22, 2013
The American Medical Association joins health organizations in acknowledging obesity as a disease, deserving of proper treatment and prevention.

Coffee and Heart Health

Jul 18, 2013
Studies suggest coffee helps protect our hearts, rather than harm them.

A Stark Reminder of Americans' Widespread Heart Disease Risk

Jul 15, 2013
Beloved actor James Gandolfini’s early death is a wake-up call to the millions of Americans at risk for heart disease.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Directly Linked to Risk for Sudden Cardiac Death

Jun 11, 2013
A common sleep disorder may significantly increase risk of sudden cardiac death.

Vegetarians May Live Longer Than Meat Eaters

Jun 05, 2013
New research confirms that vegetarian dietary patterns can extend longevity.

Mediterranean Diet Could Prevent Memory Loss

Jun 05, 2013
In addition to being heart-healthy, the Mediterranean diet may also help protect our minds.

Novel Ads Encourage Smokers to Ask Their Doctors About Quitting

Jun 05, 2013
A new national campaign aiming to curb smoking rates features real stories from former smokers.

Magnets in iPad 2 May Interfere with Heart Devices

May 28, 2013
A study conducted by a 14-year-old student finds that the iPad 2 interferes with implantable cardioverter defibrillators.

Poor Diet Negatively Impacts Sleep Patterns in Middle-School Children

May 23, 2013
Among children, a link found between diet and sleep may be the key to promoting better heart health as adults.

Smokeless Tobacco Trends in Adolescents

May 16, 2013
Smokeless tobacco use remains unchanged between 2000 and 2011 among middle and high school students.

Featured Video

Total cholesterol is made up of both HDL ("good" cholesterol) and LDL, the "bad" cholesterol—in addition to triglycerides—that you have to keep low.

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