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What is high cholesterol? - 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

Heart UK has separate information about inherited high cholesterol that starts at a young age, called familial hypercholesterolaemia.

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Page last reviewed: 15 April 2019
Next review due: 15 April 2022