Many of the factors that increase your risk of developing
high cholesterol are controllable.
Diabetes: Diabetes often leads to high
triglyceride levels, low
HDL levels, and high
LDL levels. But effective management of diabetes may
help prevent these effects.
Diet: A diet
saturated fat, trans fat,
cholesterol, and calories can increase your total
cholesterol level and lead to obesity. Too much saturated fat can stimulate the
production of cholesterol in your body, which can increase production of LDL
and increase your risk of
coronary artery disease (CAD). Changing your diet may
lower your cholesterol.
Lack of physical activity: Lack of exercise reduces HDL levels and increases obesity and
insulin resistance in diabetes, adding to these risk factors for high
cholesterol. By increasing your blood flow and promoting cardiovascular health,
exercise benefits your entire circulatory system and may raise your HDL (good) cholesterol.
Being overweight: Having excess body weight is associated with
decreased HDL levels and increased LDL levels. It also contributes to glucose
intolerance and the development of diabetes. Losing weight to reach a healthy
level may lower your cholesterol.
Smoking increases your risk of CAD, and quitting can reduce the risk.
The following table summarizes how each risk factor affects high
cholesterol through its effect on specific lipoproteins.
Controllable risk factors for high cholesterol
How does it affect your lipoprotein levels?
Decreases HDL ("good"
Increases LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and
Lack of physical activity
May increase LDL and
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.