Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge CenterHigh Cholesterol Causes and Treatment

High Cholesterol Causes and Treatment

Bad cholesterol (LDL) can increase your risk for other conditions. Learn about types of cholesterol and how to manage high cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat in the blood. Some cholesterol is needed by your body to work properly, and your body makes the cholesterol you need. But you also get cholesterol from the foods you eat.

There are 2 different types of cholesterol:

  • HDL, or good cholesterol, carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver where it is removed from your body. High HDL levels are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
  • LDL, or bad cholesterol, can raise your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Talk to your doctor if you have high LDL levels.

What causes high cholesterol?

Some of the things that cause high cholesterol levels are out of your control. These risk factors include:

  • Age and gender: After you reach age 20, your cholesterol naturally begins to rise.
    • In men, cholesterol generally levels off after age 50.
    • In women, it tends to stay low until menopause. Then it rises to about the same level as men.
  • Disease: Certain diseases can raise your risk of high cholesterol, including hypothyroidism, chronic kidney disease, and some types of liver disease.
  • Family history; High cholesterol may run in your family.

Some causes of high cholesterol can be controlled, such as:

  • A diet high in fat
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking

What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?

Too much bad cholesterol builds up as plaque in the arteries that carry blood away from your heart. This is known as hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Hardening of the arteries can lead to coronary artery disease (CAD), blood clots, and inflammation that cause heart attacks and strokes.

How is high cholesterol diagnosed?

High cholesterol levels don’t make you feel sick. So a blood test is the only way to know your levels of LDL and HDL.

What are some high cholesterol treatments?

There are medications your doctor can prescribe that lower your cholesterol.

You can also make some lifestyle changes to lower your cholesterol:

  • Eat more heart-healthy foods
  • Lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
  • Be active on most—if not all—days of the week
  • Stop smoking

More Information

For more information about cholesterol, visit the MedlinePlus website.


Heart Health Exercise


Preventive Care for Seniors Health Care as We Get Older What is Diabetes? Symptoms and Causes

Back to Knowledge Center

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna


Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

The Cigna Group Information

About Cigna Healthcare Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers The Cigna Group Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap Cookie Settings


Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details