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Can High Cholesterol Be Hereditary?

Can High Cholesterol Be Hereditary?

Knowing Your Family History of High Cholesterol

During your periodic wellness visit, your doctor may draw blood to track several key health indicators — including your cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, it's essential to understand that this health condition can be hereditary. This means that it can run in your family, and you may be at increased risk for developing it if you have a family history of high cholesterol.

Is High Cholesterol Bad for You?

There are two types of cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). High levels of LDL cholesterol are commonly termed "high cholesterol", while increasing HDL levels can help reduce LDL levels in the body. A blood test measures cholesterol levels; total cholesterol over 200, or LDL greater than 160, is high. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or medication to help lower your levels.

High cholesterol is bad for the body because it can lead to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries. This can increase heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems.

Does High Cholesterol Run in the Family?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about one-third of adults in the United States have high cholesterol. And although lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise play a role in cholesterol levels, genetics can also be a factor. According to the American Heart Association, if someone in your immediate family has high cholesterol, you're more likely to have it, too.

Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Lipid Research found that familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is associated with higher LDL cholesterol levels. The study found that people with FH have a defect in a gene that helps control LDL cholesterol levels. This defect can be passed down from generation to generation.

Managing Your Health at St. John's Health

If you have high cholesterol, it's essential to talk to your doctor about your family history and whether or not you may be at increased risk for developing this condition. Treatment can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of severe health problems.

At St. John's Health, our team offers a wide range of services to help you manage your health and take preventative care of your family. To find your family's physician, visit our website today.