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High Blood Cholesterol

High Blood Cholesterol

High blood cholesterol, also called hyperlipidemia, is the persistent presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that can build up on the walls of arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. There are two types of cholesterol—LDL, or low-density lipoproteins, and HDL, or high-density lipoproteins. High levels of LDL can increase the risk of heart disease while high levels of HDL are protective.  When LDL builds up on the walls of arteries, it decreases the flow of blood and can deprive the heart or brain from an adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood.

More than 71 million adults have high LDL cholesterol including nearly 37 percent of Ohio adults.  High blood cholesterol has no signs or symptoms, and only one third of those with high blood cholesterol get treatment.  Individuals with a high fat diet, low levels of physical activity, a history of smoking, diabetes and obesity are at an increased risk for developing high blood cholesterol. 

Because there are no signs or symptoms of high blood cholesterol, a blood test is the only way to detect and diagnose high blood cholesterol.  This blood test will measure LDL, HDL and triglycerides, which is another type of fat in the blood.  Desirable levels of total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides are provided in the following chart:

Desirable Cholesterol Levels

  Total cholesterol

  Less than 200 mg/dL

  LDL (“bad” cholesterol)

  Less than 100 mg/dL

  HDL (“good” cholesterol)

  60 mg/dL or higher


  Less than 150 mg/dL

If a person is diagnosed with high blood cholesterol, their doctor will develop a plan for them to move their measurement into a heart-healthy range.  This will include eating a healthy diet, getting physical activity, not smoking tobacco, and potentially taking medication.  Moving cholesterol into a healthy range can decrease a person’s risk for developing and dying from cardiovascular disease.