What is Hypercholesterolemia?

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).

Fredrickson classification

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.

Secondary causes

There are a number of secondary causes for high cholesterol:

  • Diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome
  • Kidney disease (nephrotic syndrome)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Zieve's syndrome
  • Family history
  • Antiretroviral drugs, like protease inhibitors and nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.
  • Diet
  • Body weight
  • Physical activity

Further Reading


This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Hypercholesterolemia" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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