What is hypercholesterolemia?

Hypercholesterolemia is defined as an increase in blood cholesterol above normal. Human body has limited ability to break down cholesterol, so in increased amounts it builds up in the blood. Excess cholesterol is deposited in the blood vessels and makes it difficult for blood to flow.


Why are high blood cholesterol levels dangerous?

Sometimes, these cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels, called plaques, can break down and form clots, which block the blood flow in the arteries, causing cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke.


What are the causes of hypercholesterolemia?

The causes of hypercholesterolemia may be environmental or genetic:

  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cholestasis
  • Kidney disease
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Familial Hypercholesterolemia
  • Inherited forms of dyslipidaemia

What are the symptoms of hypercholesterolemia?

High cholesterol has no symptoms. In familial forms, such as familial hypercholesterolemia, there are some specific signs, such as tendon xanthomas.


How is hypercholesterolemia diagnosed?

The diagnosis of hypercholesterolemia requires history, physical examination and is made by measuring blood cholesterol levels. For familial forms, genetic testing is also required.


What are the complications of hypercholesterolemia?

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease
  • Fatty liver disease

What is the treatment for hypercholesterolemia?

The treatment of hypercholesterolaemia consists of:

  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Exercise
  • Healthy Diet

Depending on the risk factors, co-morbidities and the outcome of lifestyle modifications, the endocrinologist may decide to start medical treatment, which consists of:

  • Statins
  • Bile acid sequestrants
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
  • PCSK9 inhibitors