Hyperlipidemia is a condition of high cholesterol levels in the blood and can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in all the cells of your body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, Vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs but when you have too much cholesterol in your blood it can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque. Plaque sticks to the walls of your arteries and can lead to heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.

What causes high cholesterol?

The most common cause of high cholesterol is an unhealthy lifestyle. This can include:

  • Unhealthy eating habits, such as eating lots of bad fats (some meats, dairy products, baked goods, processed and deep-fried foods). Another type, trans fat, is in some fried and processed foods and can also raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Lack of physical activity with lots of sitting and little exercise can lower your HDL (good cholesterol).
  • Smoking, which lowers HDL cholesterol, especially in women, also raises your LDL cholesterol.
  • Genetics may also cause people to have high cholesterol as well as other medical conditions and certain medications.

How is high cholesterol diagnosed?

There are usually no signs or symptoms that would indicate you have high cholesterol. A blood test is used to measure your cholesterol level. When and how often you should get this test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history.

How can you lower your cholesterol?

Heart-healthy lifestyle changes including good nutrition, weight management, and regular physical activity can help you lower your cholesterol. If lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough you may also need to take medicines.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.