Overview of hyperlipidemia or hyperlipidemia
You call it high cholesterol. Your doctor calls it hyperlipidemia. Either way, it is a common problem. The term covers various disorders that result in extra fats, also known as lipids, in the blood. You can control some of its causes, But not all of them.
Hyperlipidemia can be treated, but it is often a lifelong condition. You will need to watch what you eat and also exercise regularly. You may also need to take prescription medicine. The goal is to reduce harmful cholesterol levels. Doing so can lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other problems.
Hyperlipidemia has no symptoms, so the only way to detect it is to have your doctor perform a blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. This test determines your cholesterol levels. Your doctor will take a sample of your blood and send it to a lab for testing, then they will contact you with a full report. Your report will show your levels of:
- Total cholesterol
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
Your doctor may ask you to fast for 8 to 12 hours before having your blood drawn. That means you should avoid eating or drinking anything other than water during this time. However, recent studies suggest that fasting is not always necessary, so follow your doctor’s instructions regarding your particular health concerns.
Generally, a total cholesterol level greater than 200 milligrams per deciliter is considered high. However, safe cholesterol levels can vary from person to person based on medical history and current health problems and are best determined by your doctor. Your physician will use your lipid panel to make a diagnosis of hyperlipidemia.
Are you at risk for hyperlipidemia?
There are binary types of cholesterol, LDL, and HDL. You’ve probably heard them called “bad” and “good” cholesterol, correspondingly. LDL (“bad”) cholesterol builds upon the walls of the arteries, making them hard and narrow. HDL (“good”) cholesterol clears excess “bad” cholesterol and moves it away from the arteries, back to the liver. Hyperlipidemia is caused by having too much LDL cholesterol in your blood and not having enough HDL cholesterol to remove it.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices can increase “bad” cholesterol levels and lower “good” cholesterol levels. If you are overweight, eat a lot of fatty foods, smoke, or don’t get enough exercise, you are at risk.
Lifestyle choices that put you at risk for high cholesterol include:
- Eating foods with saturated and trans fats
- Consumption of animal protein, such as meat and dairy
- Not getting enough exercise
- Not eating enough healthy fats
- Large waist circumference
- Drinking alcohol excessively
Irregular cholesterol levels are also originating in some people with certain health conditions, including:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Underactive thyroid
- Inherited conditions
Also, your cholesterol levels can be affected by certain medications:
- Birth control pills
- Some medicines for depression
Generally, people with hyperlipidemia do not experience any symptoms. However, people with familial or inherited hyperlipidemia can develop yellow fatty growths around the eyes or joints. A doctor usually detects hyperlipidemia during a routine blood test or after a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke.
An excessive accumulation of fat over time can cause atherosclerosis. This is when plaques develop on the walls of the veins and blood vessels and thin the openings. This can lead to unstable blood flow through the vessels and can importantly increase the risk of heart disease and hit.
Hyperlipidemia is most commonly connected with high-fat diets, an inactive lifestyle, obesity, and diabetes.
There are also genetic causes. Familial hypercholesterolemia, a form of hyperlipidemia, is the most common dominant inherited genetic disorder in humans worldwide. It is the result of mutations in genes that involve proteins in a form of cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) that can cause early-onset atherosclerosis.
Steps you can take to improve your cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease and a heart attack include:
- Give up smoking. This is the biggest change you can make to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Eat foods that are unsurprisingly low in fat. These include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Use low-fat dressings, sauces, and dressings.
- Avoid foods high in saturated fat.
- Get regular exercise.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
Your provider may ask you to take cholesterol medicine if lifestyle changes don’t work. It will depend on:
- Your age
- Whether or not you have heart disease, diabetes, or other blood current problems.
- If you smoke or are overweight
- If you have high blood heaviness or diabetes
You are more likely to need medicine to lower cholesterol:
- If you have heart disease or diabetes.
- If you are at risk of heart disease (even if you don’t have any heart problems yet)
- If your LDL cholesterol is 190 mg /dL or more
- Almost everyone else can get health benefits from LDL cholesterol that is less than 160 to 190 mg /dL.
There are several types of medications that help lower blood cholesterol levels. Medicines work in different ways. Statins are a type of cholesterol-lowering drug and have been shown to reduce the chance of heart disease. Other medications are available if your risk is high and statins do not lower your cholesterol levels enough. These include ezetimibe and PCSK9 inhibitors.
Risk factors that can contribute to hyperlipidemia include:
- Inheritances: Hereditary factors are the most common cause of hyperlipidemia.
- Age: The risk of hyperlipidemia increases with age.
- Other disorders: diabetes, kidney disease, and hypothyroidism can promote hyperlipidemia.
While many risk factors cannot be controlled, you can make lifestyle changes to help prevent or reduce your risk of hyperlipidemia by:
- Practice good heart health: Practice good heart health: eat a diet low in saturated and trans fat but high in fiber, eat fish twice a week, exercise several days a week, and quit smoking.
- Control weight – maintain a normal weight and body mass index.
- Manage diabetes: Take medications as prescribed and follow your doctor’s diet and exercise recommendations.
Complications of hyperlipidemia can include atherosclerosis (hardening or narrowing of the arteries). Hyperlipidemia is directly related to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.