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High Cholesterol Physical Exam: What is my doctor looking for?

During your physical, your doctor will do the following:

  • assess your overall health
  • ask about heart disease symptoms and risk factors
  • check your blood pressure
  • listen to your heart and lungs
  • check the circulation in your legs
  • take a blood sample

There's no way for your doctor to tell by examining you whether you have high cholesterol. But an exam may bring to light signs or symptoms that suggest you have or are at greater risk for high cholesterol or heart disease. To find out for sure whether you have high cholesterol, your doctor will take a sample of your blood for testing.

What If I Do Have High Cholesterol?

If you have high cholesterol, your doctor will want to examine you further. Your doctor will want to check whether you have any illnesses that can cause high cholesterol. These include diabetes and some forms of thyroid, liver, or kidney disease. If you have one of these conditions, you need proper treatment for them to help control your cholesterol. Your doctor will also want to review any medicines you take, because some can affect your level of cholesterol or triglycerides.