Hypercholesterolemia is a word for high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Some people have an inherited syndrome, which causes very high levels of cholesterol.
Untreated high cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular problems.
The Center for Inherited Heart Disease at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute provides diagnosis and treatment all in one place. No need to travel around for outside referrals.
To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
Hypercholesterolemia is the medical term for high cholesterol.
Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones and digest fatty foods. But too much raises the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
About 38% of American adults have high cholesterol.
There are two main types of cholesterol:
When you have too much cholesterol, sometimes your body can't remove it.
For some people, this is a genetic condition called familial lipid syndrome. Familial high cholesterol affects about 1 in 200 to 250 people around the world.
Common causes of high cholesterol include:
Certain genetic changes can cause familial hypercholesterolemia. These changes make the body unable to get rid of excess cholesterol, causing it to build up in the blood.
People with familial syndrome aren't able to lower cholesterol through diet and exercise alone.
What you eat and other lifestyle factors play a big role in having high cholesterol.
Other risk factors include:
Excess cholesterol builds up in the bloodstream. It collects in the arteries, causing them to get clogged.
This makes it harder for blood to flow normally through your body and can lead to heart disease, stroke, or heart attack.
Familial high cholesterol can lead to heart disease at a young age.
It can also cause deposits of cholesterol under the skin. These look like bumps that can show up around the eyelids or over the hands, knees, or ankles.
High cholesterol doesn't cause symptoms. When the cholesterol causes the arteries to narrow, then most people have symptoms of heart disease.
Heart disease symptoms include:
To diagnose high cholesterol, your doctor will order a simple blood test.
The first step toward managing or lowering cholesterol is through diet and exercise.
Here are some tips to get started:
Sometimes lifestyle changes aren't enough to get your cholesterol within desired levels. Your doctor may then prescribe medication to get your cholesterol levels to more appropriate levels.