Low density lipoprotein (patient information)

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What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?

When to seek urgent medical care?

Treatment options

Diseases with similar symptoms

Where to find medical care for high LDL?

Prevention of high LDL

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

high LDL On the Web

Ongoing Trials at Clinical Trials.gov

Images of high LDL

Videos on high LDL

FDA on high LDL

CDC on high LDL

high LDL in the news

Blogs on high LDL

Directions to Hospitals Treating high LDL

Risk calculators and risk factors for high LDL

For the WikiDoc page on LDL, click here

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol make up the majority of the body's cholesterol. LDL is known as "bad" cholesterol because having high levels can lead to a buildup in the arteries and result in heart disease.

What are the symptoms of high LDL?

High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. Only a doctor's check will reveal it.

What causes high LDL?

High LDL is caused by genetic factors and environmental factors such as unhealthy diet, obesity, and diabetes.

Who is at highest risk?

Some health conditions, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors, can put people at a higher risk for developing high cholesterol:

  • Age: Because cholesterol tends to rise as people get older, everyone's risk for high cholesterol increases with age. Women's LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels rise more quickly than do men's. Until around age 55, women tend to have lower LDL levels than men do. At any age, men tend to have lower HDL ("good" cholesterol) levels than women do.
  • Diabetes: Having diabetes can also make you more likely to develop high cholesterol. Diabetes affects the body's use of a hormone called insulin. This hormone tells the body to remove sugar from the blood. With diabetes, the body either doesn't make enough insulin, can't use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. This causes sugars to build up in the blood.
  • Diet: Certain foods raise your cholesterol levels. These foods tend to contain saturated fats, trans fatty acids (trans fats), dietary cholesterol, or triglycerides.
  • Weight: Being overweight can raise LDL, lower HDL, and raise total cholesterol levels.
  • Physical Inactivity: Not getting enough exercise can make you gain weight, which can lead to increased cholesterol levels.

When to seek urgent medical care?


The diagnosis of high LDL is made by measuring the blood fasting lipid panel, which includes LDL.

Treatment options

You can take several steps to maintain a normal LDL level.

  • Get a blood test.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Treat high LDL if recommended by your doctor.

Where to find medical care for high LDL?

Directions to Hospitals Treating High high LDL

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medications in addition to lifestyle changes. Controlling LDL cholesterol is the primary focus of treatment.

Your treatment plan will depend on your current LDL level and risk for heart disease and stroke. Your risk for heart disease and stroke depends on other risk factors including high blood pressure, smoking status, age, HDL level, and family history of early heart disease. In addition, people with existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes are at high risk.

Possible complications

High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease.


  • Get a blood test (when recommended)
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don't smoke