Is Cholesterol Inherited?

High cholesterol refers to a high combined cholesterol number. Your cholesterol number is made up of three numbers: LDL, HDL and triglyceride. LDL is the “bad” cholesterol number. This sticky form of cholesterol comes from fatty foods. It adheres to the vessel walls, narrowing the passageway for blood and increasing the workload of the heart to move that blood. This is the basis of high blood pressure.

HDL stands for “good” cholesterol. It is produced by food but most of it originates in the liver. Its job is to clean the vessels. It is not sticky so it doesn’t adhere to the walls, but removes LDL cholesterol that is there and helps it not to be able to stick again.

Triglyceride is a form of fat that comes from the food we eat and is stored in the body. It can also clump and stick to vessel walls, leading to potential heart problems and possibly a stroke.


While cholesterol problems can be caused by food and weight (obesity), there is also a hereditary component. This condition is called dyslipidemia. In simplest terms, it means that there is an overabundance of fat (lipids) in the blood. The condition is also referred to as hypercholesterolemia.

People with this disorder have, by nature, high amounts of lipids in the bloodstream. This occurs without the intervention of food. The lipids that are in high concentration are the LDL and the triglycerides, which you don’t want. The HDL is not high enough to combat the problems caused by the other two.

There are ways that this condition can be managed and ways that it can be made worse. Let’s talk about the latter first. With a family history of high cholesterol, it is important to avoid the following conditions: obesity, poor diet, drinking alcohol and a sedentary lifestyle. All of these things can increase your levels of poor lipids in the blood and put you that much more at risk for heart disease.

On the other hand, you can manage your predisposition to high cholesterol with a few changes to your lifestyle. The most important is to look at your diet. Reduce the amount of saturated fats and increase your intake of healthy and lean protein and grains. Increasing exercise levels can manage blood sugar to stop diabetes from being a problem.

Let your doctor know about your condition. They can be sure that they don’t prescribe certain medications (oral contraceptives) that can increase your LDL and/or triglyceride levels even further.