High cholesterol is increasingly common with age and can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and other health problems.
High cholesterol is a condition that occurs when the level of cholesterol in your blood is high enough to cause health problems such as heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
High cholesterol – sometimes called hypercholesterolemia – is painful and does not cause any symptoms.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a thick, fatty substance found in every cell of your body.
Cholesterol is essential for many life-sustaining functions produced by your liver. It helps your body make hormones and vitamin D, and it is also found in compounds – such as bile – that your body makes to help you digest food.
Cholesterol circulates throughout your bloodstream in tiny bundles called lipoproteins. The inner part of these bundles contains fat, while the proteins form the outer wall.
What Are the Different Types of Cholesterol?
There are two main types of cholesterol in the blood.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): Considered to be a “bad” form of cholesterol, LDL enables cholesterol to form a reservoir (plaque) that strengthens and hardens the walls of blood vessels. A condition called atherosclerosis (commonly known as “hardening of the arteries”).
When it occurs in the coronary arteries (the arteries that serve your heart), it reduces your heart’s oxygen-rich blood supply. This serious condition, called coronary artery disease, can lead to heart attacks and even death.
The plaques can also form on the arteries that supply blood to your brain, stomach, arms and legs, resulting in a higher risk of stroke, intestinal damage and peripheral artery disease.
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL): HDL is a “good” type of cholesterol, as it helps lower LDL levels.
The role of HDL is to transfer LDL cholesterol to your liver, which removes it from your blood.
What Are Triglycerides and Why Do They Matter?
Triglycerides are another form of blood fat, such as cholesterol.
High triglyceride levels increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack.
Choosing a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in controlling your triglyceride levels.
However, some people have an inherited genetic condition called hyper-triglyceridemia, which causes high levels of triglyceride levels.
Facts and Statistics About Cholesterol
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 73.5 million adults in the United States – 31.7% of the population – have high levels of LDL cholesterol.
Less than one in three (29.5%) people with high LDL cholesterol have their condition under control.
Less than half of adults with high LDL cholesterol (48.1%) are receiving treatment to reduce it, the CDC noted.
High cholesterol becomes more common with age. After a decade, your cholesterol may go up:
In their twenties, 22% of people have high cholesterol.
In the thirties, 38% of people have high cholesterol.
In the forties, 50% of people have high cholesterol.
In their fifties, 62% of people had high cholesterol.
Learn more about LDL cholesterol
Learn more about HDL cholesterol
Learn more about triglycerides
Learn more about high cholesterol treatment
Learn more about cholesterol medications
Learn more about the high cholesterol diet