July 1, 2016

Answers FAQ

High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Take the High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!

Q:What is cholesterol?

A:Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance that is present in every cell of the body and is carried in the bloodstream.

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Q:Cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver. True or false?

A:True.

The liver produces cholesterol in the body. Dietary sources (animal-derived foods) also contain cholesterol. Cholesterol plays a number of roles in maintaining vital body functions including hormone production and digestion.

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Q:Most of the cholesterol in our diets comes from where?

A:Dietary cholesterol comes from animal-derived foods, including egg yolks, fatty meats, poultry, dairy, and regular cheese.

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Q:What are symptoms of high cholesterol?

A:Elevated blood cholesterol has been linked to serious health complications, but high cholesterol typically does not produce symptoms or signs.

Therefore, many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is high. Your doctor can advise you on how often your cholesterol levels should be tested.

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Q:High cholesterol is not seen in children. True or false?

A:False.

Anyone of any age can have high cholesterol levels. The process of cholesterol buildup in arteries has been shown to begin during childhood. With rising rates of childhood obesity, more and more children are at risk for developing high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease.

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Q:"Plaques" are cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels and arteries. True or false?

A:True.

The term "plaque" refers to the deposition of cholesterol and other substances on the walls of blood vessels, eventually compromising circulation. Cardiovascular disease occurs when plaque obstructs the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. Complete blockage of a coronary artery leads to an interruption of blood flow to the heart, or a heart attack. Blood clots also form on areas of plaque and can obstruct the arteries.

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Q:Heart attack and stroke are similar events. True or false?

A:True.

Both heart attack and stroke involve the interruption of blood flow to an organ due to a blockage within an artery. A heart attack results from a blocked coronary artery, while a stroke results from blockage of an artery in the brain.

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Q:Medications that lower cholesterol are called statins. True or false?

A:True.

HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, commonly known as statins, are one class of drugs that lower blood cholesterol levels. Statins reduce the production of cholesterol by the liver by blocking an enzymatic reaction in the process of cholesterol synthesis.

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Q:There is little that can be done to control high cholesterol. True or false?

A:False.

Both healthy lifestyle practices as well as medications can help prevent high cholesterol levels. You and your health care team should work together to ensure a healthy activity level and eating plan that can reduce your chances of getting high cholesterol, or lowering your cholesterol level if it is already elevated. Some people will also require prescription medications to lower blood cholesterol levels.

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