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

Heart Disease Burden Has Shifted to Southern U.S. States

May 04, 2016

The highest death rates from heart disease have shifted to the South since the 1970s.

Coronary Artery Calcium Scans Help Refine Treatment Decisions

May 03, 2016

Landmark research demonstrates the benefits of using CAC tests when appropriate.

More Younger Adults Should Take Statins, Finds Study

May 01, 2016

Increased statin use could prevent heart events for over a quarter of a million people.

Cholesterol-Lowering Statins Reduce Risk of Death Even Years After Use

Mar 08, 2016
Study illustrates the lifelong benefits of statin use.

Decline in Dementia Rates Over Past Three Decades

Mar 08, 2016

Study analyzed data on trends in older adults in the Framingham Heart Study.

Texting Programs Improve Medication Adherence in Patients with Chronic Disease

Feb 26, 2016
A recent study suggests that text messaging programs double the odds of medication adherence in adults with chronic disease.

Too Little Exercise Remains a Prime Concern for Americans

Jan 18, 2016
Experts reaffirm that health benefits from exercise far outweigh risks.

Cardiac Rehab is Lifesaving for Heart Patients

Jan 10, 2016

Exercise-based rehab programs reduce risk for heart-related death by 26%.

Heart Disease Remains Top Killer in the United States

Jan 10, 2016

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 3 deaths, highlighting an urgent need for prevention and treatment.

Negative Press for Statins Discourages Patients from Taking Their Meds

Dec 11, 2015

Not taking cholesterol-lowering statins as prescribed means higher risk for heart attack and death.

CardioSmart's Heart Forum on Managing Cholesterol

Dec 04, 2015

Join the CardioSmart Team on Dec. 15 at 12:00 p.m. ET for a free online webinar on managing cholesterol.

Click to Register Now!

Declines in U.S. Death Rates Have Slowed

Nov 19, 2015
Researchers measure progress on heart disease and other leading causes of death, and identify areas for improvement.

Low-Fat Diets Not the Best Weight Loss Solution

Nov 19, 2015

A review of more than 50 clinical trials comparing low- versus higher-fat diets shows no significant difference in weight loss results.

Non-statin Cholesterol Therapy Declining Among Older Adults

Oct 27, 2015

Fewer older adults are on non-statin lipid therapy due to concerns raised by recent clinical trials, finds study.

African-American Veterans Healthier Than White Counterparts

Oct 22, 2015

Analysis of VA data stands in contrast to health disparities in the general U.S. population.

Managing Your Heart Health: Cholesterol event in Charleston, SC

Oct 22, 2015

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

Managing Your Heart Health: Cholesterol event in Miami

Oct 22, 2015

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

A Healthy Lifestyle in Midlife Makes for Healthier Golden Years

Oct 13, 2015

The benefits of healthy choices carry long into older adulthood.

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.

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.