What is high cholesterol?
- high cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood
- it’s mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. It can also run in families
- you can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine
- too much cholesterol can block your blood vessels. It makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke
- high cholesterol does not cause symptoms. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test
High cholesterol does not cause symptoms. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test.
Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high.
This may because of your age, weight or another condition you have (like high blood pressure or diabetes).
About your cholesterol result
cholesterol test can measure:
- total cholesterol – the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood, including both “good” and “bad” cholesterol
- good cholesterol (called HDL) – this makes you less likely to have heart problems or a stroke
- bad cholesterol (called LDL and non-HDL) – this makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke
- triglycerides – a fatty substance similar to bad cholesterol
When you get your result, you may just be told your total cholesterol.
You might be able to get separate results for your good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Ask your doctor or nurse.
How to lower your cholesterol
- Eat less fatty food
- Exercise more
- Stop smoking
- Cut down on alcohol
Find out more at nhs.uk/conditions/high-cholesterol