Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About High Blood Cholesterol
- What is high cholesterol?
- What are symptoms of high cholesterol?
- What can you do about high cholesterol?
- What are the different types of cholesterol?
- What levels of cholesterol are healthy?
- How many Americans have high cholesterol?
- What is CDC doing to address high blood cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and in many foods. Your body needs cholesterol to function normally and makes all that you need. You can end up with too much cholesterol because of the foods you eat and the rate at which your body breaks down cholesterol.
Excess cholesterol can build up in your arteries. After a while, the deposits narrow your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Find out more about high cholesterol.
High cholesterol itself does not have symptoms. As a result, many people do not know that their cholesterol level is too high.
Doctors can do simple blood tests to check your cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe various treatments depending on your risk for developing heart disease. Find out more about high cholesterol.
You can take several steps to keep your cholesterol normal:
- Get a blood test.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Don't smoke.
- Treat high cholesterol.
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medications in addition to lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care provider about the best ways to reduce your heart disease risk. Find out more about preventing and controlling high blood cholesterol.
|Low-density lipoproteins (LDL)|
|High-density lipoproteins (HDL)|
Desirable Cholesterol Levels
|Total cholesterol||Less than 200 mg/dL|
|LDL ("bad" cholesterol)||Less than 100 mg/dL|
|HDL ("good" cholesterol)||40 mg/DL or higher|
|Triglycerides||Less than 150 mg/dL|
Approximately one in every six adults—17% of the U.S. adult population—has high blood cholesterol.1 Anyone, including children, can develop high cholesterol. It greatly increases the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. See more facts and statistics.
The CDC has several programs to help people prevent and control high cholesterol. CDC funds state health departments to develop programs to help people reduce their cholesterol level. CDC's WISEWOMAN programs work to help low income or underinsured women reduce their cholesterol levels. CDC does research to analyze trends and monitor the cholesterol levels of the U.S. population, and performs laboratory measurements. For more information on these programs, please see our CDC addresses high cholesterol section.
- Schober SE, Carroll MD, Lacher DA, Hirsch R. High serum total cholesterol—an indicator for monitoring cholesterol lowering efforts; U.S. adults, 2005–2006. NCHS data brief no 2, Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2007.