by EBSCO Medical Review Board

A risk factor is something that raises your chances of getting a health problem.

You can have a lipid disorder with or without the risk factors listed below. But the more you have, the greater the chances of getting it. If you have many risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to lower your risk.

Lipid disorders are linked to poor lifestyle habits. This can come from:

  • Not getting enough exercise. Exercise helps lower bad and raise good cholesterol.
  • Eating foods high in certain fats, cholesterol, or calories.
  • Not eating enough healthy foods such as fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Smoking—Lowers good cholesterol.
  • Excess alcohol—Raises triglycerides.

Other factors that may make the risk of lipid disorders higher:

  • Certain genes—Cause problems with how the body makes and gets rid of cholesterol.
  • Certain health problems such as:
    • Being overweight
    • Diabetes
    • Metabolic syndrome—Blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol are all higher than normal. Having more fat around the belly is also a problem.
    • Underactive thyroid gland—Getting rid of cholesterol takes longer than normal.
    • Kidney or liver disease
  • Certain medicines are linked to higher cholesterol levels


Causes of high cholesterol. American Heart Association website. Available at: Accessed May 28, 2019.

Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey AL, et al. 2018 AHA/ACC/AACVPR/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA guideline on the management of blood cholesterol. Circulation. 2018;Nov 10 [Epub ahead of print]. Available at:

Hypercholesterolemia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: . Updated April 16, 2019. Accessed May 28, 2019.

Hypertriglyceridemia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: . Updated November 28, 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2019
  • Update Date: 05/28/2019