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What is high cholesterol?


High cholesterol - also called hypercholesterolemia - is a condition in which the level of cholesterol in the blood is higher than normal. High cholesterol has no symptoms. Over time, cholesterol may stick to the inside of blood vessels, resulting in clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke. Many different factors can lead to high cholesterol, including heredity, a high-fat diet, lack of exercise, and being overweight.

Cholesterol types

There are several different types of cholesterol. LDL-cholesterol or "bad cholesterol" is the type of cholesterol that is thought to cause heart disease and stroke. HDL-cholesterol or "good cholesterol" actually helps prevent heart disease and stroke. These types of cholesterol can be easily measured with a blood test. Having high levels of "bad cholesterol" is where danger lies.

Treatments options

Regular exercise and a diet low in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are usually the first treatments used to lower LDL-cholesterol and raise HDL-cholesterol. In addition, people who are overweight can lower their LDL-cholesterol by losing weight. If these steps do not lower cholesterol enough, drugs may be used. Medicines used to treat high cholesterol include over-the-counter products, prescription drugs and herbal remedies.

Back to Ask a Pharmacist


Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

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