High Cholesterol

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

Martha Gulati, 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

Music Boosts Heart Health

Oct 13, 2015
Music’s effect on heart activity, blood pressure and breathing bodes well for health.

Coronary Artery Calcium Helps Identify Patients Eligible for Statins

Oct 07, 2015
Calcium build-up in the heart’s main arteries helps identify individuals most in need of the cholesterol-lowering medication.

Managing Your Heart Health: Cholesterol event in Atlanta

Oct 05, 2015

This program provides educational and peer-support resources on managing and preventing high cholesterol.

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 05, 2015

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip for two to Chicago in April 2016!

Longer, But Not Necessarily Healthier, Lives

Sep 25, 2015
While life expectancy continues to rise, heart disease becomes the leading cause of disability around the world.

Screening Children for Genetic Disorder That Causes High Cholesterol

Sep 19, 2015

Universal cholesterol screenings in Slovenia help identify children at risk for familial hypercholesterolemia.

Deep Belly Fat Increases Cardiovascular Risk

Sep 18, 2015
Study finds that both volume and type of belly fat have an impact on heart health.

Managing Your Heart Health: Cholesterol event in Dallas

Sep 18, 2015

This program provides educational and peer-support resources on managing and preventing high cholesterol.

Age and Gender Differences in Heart Disease Mortality Rates

Sep 17, 2015
Despite recent drops in cardiovascular mortality rates, death toll among young adults remains high.

Economic and Social Forces Have Big Impact on Heart Health

Aug 21, 2015
The American Heart Association has issued a scientific statement addressing social factors that influence risk for heart disease.

Managing Your Heart Health: Cholesterol event in Pueblo, Colo.

Aug 12, 2015

This program provides educational and peer-support resources on managing and preventing high cholesterol.

Managing Your Heart Health: Cholesterol event in New Orleans

Aug 12, 2015

This program provides educational and peer-support resources on managing and preventing high cholesterol.

1 in 2 Latino Adults Unaware of High Cholesterol

Jul 16, 2015
High cholesterol is especially common among Latinos, yet only half of this population is aware of the condition.

Chocolate Protects Against Heart Disease and Stroke

Jul 01, 2015
Moderate chocolate consumption helps, not harms, cardiovascular health.

Action, Not Advice, Helps Smokers Quit

Jun 25, 2015
Creating a quit plan and providing tools for ongoing support is more effective than education alone in helping smokers quit.

Early Detection of Genetic Disorder Causing High Cholesterol is Life-Saving

Jun 15, 2015
Recognizing the signs of a genetic disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia adds decades to lives.

Cash Incentives Help Smokers Quit

Jun 03, 2015
Rewards-based programs are much more appealing than deposit-based programs, which require smokers to risk their own money.

One in Three Americans Has Metabolic Syndrome

Jun 01, 2015

One-third of Americans has a cluster of risk factors putting them at increased risk for heart disease and diabetes, based on a review of national surveys from the last decade.

Mediterranean Diet Improves Memory and Brain Function

May 26, 2015
A diet rich in olive oil and nuts may improve brain function and reduce risk for dementia.

Physical Fitness Keeps Cholesterol Under Control

May 21, 2015
Being fit could delay the development of high cholesterol by up to fifteen years.

Obese Teens at High Risk for Heart Disease

May 12, 2015
Study finds that by the age of 17, most obese teens are facing potential heart problems later in life.

A National Plan to Get America Moving

May 11, 2015

Proposed changes to our physical and social environments encourage regular physical activity for Americans throughout the course of the day.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Rare for Adults Engaged in Sports

Apr 23, 2015

Study highlights the benefits of exercise and sports in middle-aged adults, as well as CPR training.

Is There an Exercise 'Sweet Spot' for Longer Life?

Apr 23, 2015
Two large-scale studies take a close look at meeting or exceeding current exercise guidelines, but one thing is clear: Any physical activity is far better than none.

Consistently Low Cholesterol is Key to a Healthy Heart

Apr 14, 2015
Study links fluctuation in LDL levels and the likelihood of a heart event.

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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