ZocdocAnswersDoes high cholesterol run in the family?

Question

Does high cholesterol run in the family?

My dad found out that he has high cholesterol. Does this mean that I'm at risk for it too? I'm only 21 but I want to make sure I keep mine under control starting right now.

Answer

Yes, unfortunately, high cholesterol does tend to run in families. If your father has high cholesterol, that does mean that you also will be at higher risk of developing this problem later in life. However, it is important to remember that, except in the most severe cases of high cholesterol, other factors other than genetics are equally important for determining your cholesterol level. For example, being overweight and physically inactive is a major risk factor for high cholesterol. Similarly, eating a high cholesterol diet can raise your cholesterol, as can drinking too much alcohol. Taken together, all of this means that many people can lower their cholesterol levels or prevent high cholesterol as long as they pay attention to all of these lifestyle factors and stay fit and healthy. If you have not been to your primary care doctor for an annual physical in a while, this is the right time to do so. At your annual physical, your doctor can assess your weight, blood pressure, and other basic factors. They will also be able to perform simple blood tests to see what your cholesterol levels. Based on these results, they can make recommendations about what you should do to stay healthy.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.