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High Cholesterol

Information And Treatment

Cholesterol is a fatty substance made in the liver. It’s also found in animal-based foods, like eggs, dairy and meat. Some cholesterol is necessary to build cell membranes and muscles. But when too much cholesterol builds up in the bloodstream, it can build up in the arteries, narrowing them and restricting blood flow. If an artery is totally blocked, it can lead to a heart attack.

High cholesterol can develop at any age. Roughly one-third of people under the age of 25 have high cholesterol.

Cholesterol enters the bloodstream attached to protein. Depending on the density of the protein, cholesterol can be classified as LDL (low density lipoprotein) or HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the “bad” type of cholesterol that builds up on arteries. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that actually reduces HDL in the body. LDL traveling in the bloodstream is called triglycerides.

Overall cholesterol levels should be below 200, and LDL levels should be below 100. A cholesterol level above 250 is considered high.

Risk factors for high cholesterol include the following:

Lack of estrogen

Estrogen has a protective effect against high cholesterol, which means women are more likely to develop high cholesterol after menopause. Men have no such protection. Sorry, guys.

Lack of exercise

Exercise builds a strong heart and more efficient blood flow through the arteries. The lack of cardio exercise means that the cardiovascular system is less able to resist the building up LDL in the blood.


Eating high-cholesterol foods, particularly those high in LDL, means more cholesterol in the blood and higher cholesterol overall. Animal products and fried foods are generally high in LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.

Weight gain

Heavier people are more likely to have high cholesterol, mainly because they often have more high-LDL foods in their diet. However, not all overweight people have high cholesterol, and conversely many thin people have high cholesterol.


Some chronic conditions, like diabetes, can raise cholesterol.


Luck of the genetic draw. Some people are simply more prone to develop high cholesterol because of their DNA.