Hypercholesterolemia (literally: high blood cholesterol) is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood. It is not a disease but a metabolic derangement that can be secondary to many diseases and can contribute to many forms of disease, most notably cardiovascular disease. It is closely related to the terms "hyperlipidemia" (elevated levels of lipids) and "hyperlipoproteinemia" (elevated levels of lipoproteins).
Classically, hypercholesterolemia was categorized by lipoprotein electrophoresis and the Fredrickson classification. Newer methods, such as "lipoprotein subclass analysis" have offered significant improvements in understanding the connection with atherosclerosis progression and clinical consequences.
If the hypercholesterolemia is hereditary (familial hypercholesterolemia), there is more
often a family history of premature, earlier onset atherosclerosis, as well as familial occurrence of the signs mentioned above.
There are a number of secondary causes for high cholesterol:
- Diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome
- Kidney disease (nephrotic syndrome)
- Cushing's syndrome
- Anorexia nervosa
- Sleep deprivation
- Zieve's syndrome
- Family history
- Antiretroviral drugs, like protease inhibitors and nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.
- Body weight
- Physical activity
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