What is Hyperlipidemia?

Hyperlipidemia, also known as high cholesterol, is when there is a buildup of fats in your bloodstream. The fat is composed of cholesterol and triglycerides that can cause blockages in your arteries leading to heart attacks, strokes, and other dangerous conditions. In treating patients doctors encourage patients to lower their low-density lipoprotein (LDL), referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, and raise their high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is referred to as the “good” cholesterol. LDLs are transported in the bloodstream throughout your body and can build up in your arteries restricting blood flow. On the other hand, the HDL brings the cholesterol back to the liver. 

What causes Hyperlipidemia? 

High cholesterol can be genetically inherited, but oftentimes it is due to lifestyle choices. Individuals who are obese and have a diet filled with saturated fats are at increased risk of developing hyperlipidemia. Additionally, a lack of exercise can predispose you to have high cholesterol. Individuals who smoke and have diabetes are more likely to have complications from high cholesterol because of the prior damage to their blood vessels. It is also important to note that your risk of developing hyperlipidemia increases with your age. 

What are the symptoms of Hyperlipidemia?

Individuals who have high cholesterol don’t necessarily display symptoms, but there are some manifestations of high cholesterol you can look for. For example, some people develop fatty deposits on their eyelids or around their irises. It is important to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, or extreme fatigue as high cholesterol can cause heart attacks, strokes, or other serious conditions. Because hyperlipidemia is often asymptomatic, most doctors will screen their patients periodically to detect their cholesterol levels. Your goal levels should be an HDL level greater than 40, LDL level less than 100, and triglyceride level below 150.

How to prevent and treat Hyperlipidemia?

To lower your cholesterol and prevent developing high cholesterol in the first place, one should maintain a balanced diet. It is important to incorporate lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein into your diet, while avoiding fats and a high salt content. Click here for examples of heart-healthy cooking. The American Heart Association recommends exercising 30 minutes a day for most days of the week, which can help increase your HDL. If you do develop high cholesterol, you should manage your stress and avoid smoking. Your doctor may recommend medication to help lower your cholesterol, usually with a statin. View this fotonovela by the CDC to help understand more about high cholesterol.

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