High cholesterol can be caused by a lot of different things.

Some of these things are in your control, like:

  • Eating a lot of foods high in fat, especially saturated fat
  • Not exercising enough
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking cigarettes

Other things are harder for you to control, like:

  • Having certain medical conditions like diabetes, lupus, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, hypothyroidism or HIV/AIDS
  • Taking certain medicines, like some treatments for high blood pressure, acne, cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart problems, or organ transplants 
  • Runs in your family

Having high cholesterol raises your chances of getting heart disease. Doctors recommend eating a healthy diet and exercising to try to keep your cholesterol down.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should get a cholesterol test. You and your doctor can work together to lower your risk of getting heart disease.


Food, fat, family, and disease can cause your cholesterol to get high with ease.