High cholesterol causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Mohamed Moubarak, M.D. [2]


Elevated cholesterol level can be caused by a wide variety of factors which include: genetic (e.g. familial hypercholesterolemia); endocrine (e.g. diabetes mellitus ); drug side effect (e.g. beta blockers, thiazide diuretics); kidney disease (e.g. nephrotic syndrome, chronic kidney disease), and many other factors.


Life Threatening Causes

Life-threatening causes include conditions which may result in death or permanent disability within 24 hours if left untreated. High cholesterol in itself is not a life threatening condition.

Common Causes

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Alagille syndrome, familial hypercholesterolemia
Chemical/Poisoning No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Dermatologic No underlying causes
Drug Side Effect Estrogens, everolimus, olanzapine, sirolimus, temsirolimus, thiazide diuretics , tofacitinib
Ear Nose Throat No underlying causes
Endocrine Diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome
Environmental No underlying causes
Gastroenterologic Glycogenosis type 3, glycogenosis type 6, Niemann-Pick disease type B , primary biliary cirrhosis, Stauffer syndrome, Zieve's syndrome
Genetic Analbuminaemia, apolipoprotein B deficiency, Apolipoprotein C2 deficiency, apoliprotein E deficiency, autosomal recessive hypercholesterolemia, familial combined hyperlipidemia, familial hypercholesterolemia, familial hyperlipoproteinemia type 5, glycogen storage disease type 1a, glycogenosis type 3, glycogenosis type 6, lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase deficiency, lipoprotein lipase deficiency, Niemann-Pick disease type B
Hematologic Zieve's syndrome
Iatrogenic No underlying causes
Infectious Disease No underlying causes
Musculoskeletal/Orthopedic Berardinelli–Seip syndrome
Neurologic Apoliprotein E deficiency
Nutritional/Metabolic Analbuminaemia, Berardinelli–Seip syndrome, diabetes mellitus, glycogenosis type 3, glycogenosis type 6, metabolic syndrome, Niemann-Pick disease type B, obesity, Zieve's syndrome
Obstetric/Gynecologic Polycystic ovary syndrome, pregnancy
Oncologic No underlying causes
Ophthalmologic Alström syndrome
Overdose/Toxicity No underlying causes
Psychiatric Binge eating disorder
Pulmonary No underlying causes
Renal/Electrolyte Chronic kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome
Rheumatology/Immunology/Allergy Hashimoto's thyroiditis
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma No underlying causes
Urologic No underlying causes
Miscellaneous Lack of physical inactivity

Causes in Alphabetical Order


  1. Kasiske BL, Ma JZ, Kalil RS, Louis TA (1995). "Effects of antihypertensive therapy on serum lipids". Ann Intern Med. 122 (2): 133–41. PMID 7992988.
  2. Boers M, Nurmohamed MT, Doelman CJ, Lard LR, Verhoeven AC, Voskuyl AE; et al. (2003). "Influence of glucocorticoids and disease activity on total and high density lipoprotein cholesterol in patients with rheumatoid arthritis". Ann Rheum Dis. 62 (9): 842–5. PMC 1754645. PMID 12922956.
  3. Genest JJ, Martin-Munley SS, McNamara JR, Ordovas JM, Jenner J, Myers RH; et al. (1992). "Familial lipoprotein disorders in patients with premature coronary artery disease". Circulation. 85 (6): 2025–33. PMID 1534286.

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