Font Size
A
A
A

Cholesterol


Cholesterol is an important type of fat (lipid) that is made by the body and is necessary for it to function. It also is found in foods that are made from animal products (meat and dairy products).

Cells need cholesterol to function. However, excess cholesterol in the blood builds up in blood vessels and may lead to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart disease, and stroke. People who have diabetes are at higher risk of developing atherosclerosis.

There are two main forms of cholesterol:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is called “bad cholesterol.?? Most efforts to lower cholesterol are aimed at reducing levels of LDL.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is called “good cholesterol.?? It can help remove excess cholesterol from the blood vessels.

A person's cholesterol level can be checked with a blood test. If the level is too high, lifestyle changes (such as diet changes and exercise) may help lower it. Some people may need to take medication to lower their cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of heart disease.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerCarl Orringer, MD - Cardiology, Clinical Lipidology
Last RevisedJuly 2, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.





Medical Dictionary