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Dyslipidemia is associated with having excessive or below-average blood lipid levels, which are fatty substances, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
Many people achieve these healthy levels by consuming a balanced diet and through other aspects of their lifestyle. However, some need medication to stop additional health problems.
What is dyslipidemia?
Dyslipidemia occurs when someone has abnormal levels of lipids in their blood. While the term defines a wide range of conditions, the most prevalent forms of dyslipidemia involve:
- High cholesterol, which indicates high LDL and triglyceride levels
- Low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or good cholesterol
- High levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or bad cholesterol
- High levels of triglycerides
Lipids, or fats, are foundation substance materials for your body and provide energy to cells.
- Lipids include:
LDL cholesterol, which is regarded as bad because it can trigger the development of plaques within the blood vessels.
- HDL cholesterol, which is deemed as good cholesterol since it can aid to remove LDL from the blood.
- Triglycerides, which develop when you are not burning calories fast enough, they are then stored in your fat cells.
Healthy blood lipid levels generally vary from person to person. However, people with excessive levels of LDL and triglycerides or very low HDL levels are likely to have a higher risk of acquiring atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is developed when hard, fatty deposits known as plaques start to accumulate in blood vessels, causing difficulties for your blood to flow. Over time, these plaques can formulate and create major circulation issues, or more severely, heart attacks and strokes.
Unless it is severe, most individuals with dyslipidemia are not aware that they have it. A physician will usually diagnose dyslipidemia during a regular blood test or a test for a different condition.
Untreated or severe or dyslipidemia can cause other conditions, including peripheral artery disease (PAD) and coronary artery disease (CAD).
Both PAD and CAD can cause severe health complications, including heart attacks and strokes. Common symptoms of these conditions include:
- Chest pain
- Leg pain, especially when walking or standing
- Tightness or tension in the chest and shortness of breath
- Pain, and pressure in the neck, jaw, shoulders, and back
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep problems and daytime exhaustion
- Cold sweats
- Swelling in the stomach, legs, ankles, feet, and veins of the neck
- Vomiting and nausea
These symptoms may worsen with movement, activity, or stress and get better when a person rests. Talk with a doctor about chest pain, especially any of the above symptoms accompany it and anyone who experiences severe chest pain, dizziness, and fainting, or problems breathing should seek emergency care.
Types and Causes
Dyslipidemia can be classified into two types, based on the cause and can be found and diagnosed with a blood test:
Genetic factors trigger primary dyslipidemia, and it is inherited. Common causes of primary dyslipidemia include:
- Familial combined hyperlipidemia, which forms in teenagers and young adults and can cause high cholesterol.
- Familial hypertriglyceridemia, which leads to high triglyceride levels.
- Familial hyperapobetalipoproteinemia, a deviation or mutation in a group of LDL lipoproteins known as apolipoproteins.
- Homozygous familial or polygenic hypercholesterolemia, which is a mutation in LDL receptors.
Secondary dyslipidemia is triggered by lifestyle habits and factors or medical conditions that impede natural blood lipid levels over time.
Common causes of secondary dyslipidemia include:
- Obesity, especially excess weight around the waist
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease, commonly known as IBS
- Alcohol use disorder, also known as alcoholism
- Excessive consumption of fats, particularly saturated and trans fats
- Metabolic syndrome
- Cushing’s syndrome
- An abdominal aortic aneurysm
- Severe infections, such as HIV
Several factors are known to heighten the chances of developing dyslipidemia and related conditions. These risk factors include:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- An inactive lifestyle or lack of regular physical exercise
- Tobacco use
- Older age
- Alcohol use
- Use of illegal or illicit drugs
- Type 2 diabetes
- A parent or grandparent with dyslipidemia
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Chronic kidney or liver conditions
- Digestive conditions
- A diet with excessive amounts of saturated and trans fats
- Female gender, as women tend to have higher LDL levels after menopause
Treatment for dyslipidemia will normally include taking medication.
A physician will typically concentrate on reducing a person’s levels of LDL and triglycerides. But, treatment can change, depending on the underlying problem of dyslipidemia and how difficult it is.
Physicians may recommend one or more lipid-changing prescriptions for patients with very high cholesterol levels of at least 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood. High cholesterol is generally treated with statins, which conflict with the production of cholesterol in the liver.
If statins are unable to lower LDL and triglyceride levels, a physician may prescribe additional medications, including:
- Bile acid sequestrants
- Evolocumab and alirocumab
- Lomitapide and mipomersen
Some lifestyle and changes to your routines and supplements can assist in promoting healthy blood lipid levels.
Natural and holistic treatments include:
- Reducing the consumption of unhealthy fats, particularly those found in red meats, full-fat dairy products, chocolate, chips, fried foods, and refined carbohydrates
- Regular exercise
- Avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption
- Keeping a healthy body weight as well as losing any extra weight if necessary
- Avoiding long periods of sitting, and not moving
- Quitting smoking and chewing any types of tobacco products
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating more of healthy polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, olive oil, and whole grains
- Taking omega-3 oil, through capsules or within the liquid form
- Eating a good amount of dietary fiber from vegetables, whole fruits, and whole grains
- Trying to sleep at least 6– 8 hours of sleep every night
People with less severe instances of dyslipidemia generally have no symptoms and they can often control or resolve the condition by changing lifestyle and habits.
People with dyslipidemia should communicate with a doctor if they experience symptoms relating to the heart or circulation, including:
- Nausea and heartburn
- Heart palpitations
- Swelling of the ankles and feet
- Cold sweats
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pains or tightness
Those who have severe dyslipidemia, particularly those with other health and medical conditions, may want to manage their blood lipid levels with drugs and medication, as well as making lifestyle changes.