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Assess Your Risk for Heart Disease

Cholesterol Test

A cholesterol test may be ordered to evaluate a person's risk for various conditions. Adults 20 years or over should be tested every five years for cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. High cholesterol levels increase a person's risk for the following conditions: arteriosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, coronary heart disease, or CHD, early death from heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

A cholesterol test may also be ordered to evaluate disorders of the kidney, liver, or thyroid gland.

Familial Hypercholesterolemia

By Evan M. Sisson, Pharm.D., MHA, CDE

Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited disease that causes high cholesterol levels.

Normally, the liver regulates the amount of cholesterol or fat in the blood. It uses special docking sites, or receptors, to remove extra cholesterol. A person with familial hypercholesterolemia inherits an abnormal gene for the docking site from one or both parents.

If an abnormal gene is inherited from one parent, the body makes only half of the usual number of docking sites. If the abnormal gene is inherited from both parents, the body makes no docking sites. In either case, the level of cholesterol gets too high in the blood. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other problems.

Search the Diseases & Conditions Encyclopedia to learn more about cholesterol.