High cholesterol is an important risk factor for heart disease. Risk factors for heart disease are often separated into things that you can't change or get treatment for and things that you can.

Things you can't change:

  • age and gender (women who are past menopause or older than 55 years and men older than 45 years are at higher risk)
  • ethnicity (people of African, South Asian, and First Nations descent are at higher risk)
  • family history (people who have family members who have had strokes or heart attacks before age 60, have or have had angina, or are prone to developing high blood pressure or high cholesterol are at higher risk)
  • having had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Things you can change or get treatment for:

  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • sedentary lifestyle (not enough exercise)
  • obesity (being overweight)
  • smoking
  • consuming too much alcohol (more than 3 drinks per day for men, and more than 2 drinks per day for women)
  • stress
  • diabetes
  • metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors for heart disease that tend to be found together, including a large waist size, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar; if you have a large waist size plus 2 or more of these risk factors, your doctor may diagnose you with the metabolic syndrome)

Concerned about your risk of developing heart disease? You can calculate your risk here, and talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to reduce it.