Overview of High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that carries digested fat from your liver to parts of your body for energy and healing. Cholesterol also carries fat to storage sites in your body. Cholesterol travels in the blood in packets of lipoproteins (protein on the outside and fat on the inside). The lipoproteins are in two major forms:

Diagnosing High Cholesterol

Your doctor can order a simple blood test, called a lipid panel test, to check your cholesterol. This is an important part of your health care that prevents heart attack and stroke.

Cardiologists recommend that everyone over the age of 20 get their cholesterol levels checked at least once every five years.

High cholesterol does not cause any symptoms by itself. Routine screening is the best way to detect this condition.

Components of a Lipid Panel Test:

These are general recommendations. Your doctor will develop personalized goals for your cholesterol levels, based on your overall health and other risk factors, such as family history.

Genetic Testing

Does high cholesterol run in your family? High cholesterol is a result of your diet and lifestyle choices, but it can also be genetic. If you suspect heart disease runs in your family, we can provide genetic screening to determine your risk. Our cardiac genetic counselor works in tandem with cardiologists to identify and reduce your risk for heart disease.

Treating High Cholesterol

High cholesterol treatment includes lifestyle changes, like eating a healthy, low-fat diet and taking medications. These are simple but invaluable steps that will reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Your Diet: What you eat can have a big effect on your cholesterol levels.

Your Medications: Your doctor may also prescribe a lipid medication to help improve your cholesterol levels. Lipid medications, also called blood cholesterol lowering agents or antihyperlipidemics, work in different ways.

Depending on which one you’re taking, lipid medications can lower your total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides. These medications can also treat abnormally low levels of HDL cholesterol. The most common lipid medications are called statins.

High Cholesterol In Depth

Learn more about high cholesterol from Intermountain's Patient Education Library:

Learn about High Cholesterol

Take the Cholesterol Quiz

Take the Cholesterol Quiz Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in all parts of your body. It helps form cell membranes and helps your body make some hormones and vitamin D. Excess cholesterol...

High Cholesterol

Does this test have other names? High-density lipoprotein cholesterol What is this test? An HDL cholesterol test measures the amount of high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol in your blood. Hig...

High Cholesterol

Does this test have other names? High-density lipoprotein cholesterol What is this test? An HDL cholesterol test measures the amount of high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol in your blood. Hig...

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Does this test have other names? Low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, LDL-C What is this test? This test measures the amount of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) in your blood. LDL cholester...

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Does this test have other names? High-density lipoprotein cholesterol What is this test? An HDL cholesterol test measures the amount of high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol in your blood. Hig...