The high levels of fats in the blood protein are called hyperlipidemia. This is a risk factor for heart disease, and what can worry much is the fact that there are no symptoms when one is affected by this condition. In the US alone, this condition affects 1 in 3 people, and in fact the reason for many fatal incidents in the US. In the human body, there are 2 types of fats present. Low-Density Lipoprotein is called LDL shortly, and commonly known to us as bad fat. High-Density Lipoprotein, aka HDL, is known to us as good cholesterol. When the LDL is high and HDL is low, there can be several diseases arising.
Usually, most people shun any kind of fat from the foods. Unfortunately, when the HDL is low, obviously, the levels of LDL grows higher. So it is essential to take the good fats. The best examples are the omega 3 fatty acids that are found in fish, and the good fats are also available from certain fruits, and olive oil. The body needs a bit of fat too. The fact that is not good for health is the LDL. When LDL is high, heart diseases are on the onset, even without the knowledge of the patient. To lower LDL levels, regular exercises and improved physical activities are suggested by the doctors. This can also improve the HDL levels.
It is important to understand what is cholesterol in the first place. This is a waxy fat protein that is produced by the liver. They are also essential to maintain the hormone production, to store vitamins in the body, to maintain the health of the cell membranes, and to improve the brain functioning. What makes the cholesterol problematic is the increased level of LDL. This can be because of taking too much junk and processed foods. Why is HDL is good? Simple cholesterol is carried into the bloodstream by the lipoproteins. HDL when is found excess can be transported to the liver. But in the case of LDL, it builds up in the blood when it is in excess. Triglycerides are different from cholesterol, and they are the fat present in the blood. They can also lead to heart diseases. Hyperlipidemia is a condition where the patient has both LDL and triglycerides high in the blood.
Based on the types of the disease, there can be several health problems one can face in the body.
- Type 1 : This occurs in childhood, but can affect adults too rarely. This causes severe pain in the abdomen and can be dangerous. Due to the infection of the pancreas, enlargement of liver or spleen can lead to this disease.
- Type 2 : This type is divided into 2. In the first subtype, it is called as familial hypercholesterolemia, and the second type is called familial combined hypercholesterolemia. In both the subclassifications, the levels of LDL are very high. In this type, the fat deposits around the joints and eyes can act as symptoms. These two can lead to heart diseases for sure.
- Type 3 : In this type, the LDL levels are very low, and the HDL is normal. The symptoms are the yellow-grey plaques on the eyelids, the incidence of xanthomas. This type can lead to the heart disease at the very early stage.
- Type 4 : The levels of triglycerides are increased in this type. This can also lead to obesity, high insulin levels, and high blood pressure.
As aforementioned, the worst part of hyperlipidemia is that there are no symptoms present in the patient.
However, over the period, the disease gives away the clue with subtle symptoms.
- If the hyperlipidemia is an inherited condition, fatty growths in the yellowish hue are seen around the eyes and the joints.
- The blood pressure goes up. Though it is not a symptom you can notice with ease, your regular medical checkup can give a hint. This is because the LDL builds in the blood, narrowing the arteries. This implies that blood cannot pass through them with ease, causing the heart to pump faster, and resulting in high blood pressure.
You can be at a high risk of hyperlipidemia if you do any of the following:
- Foods that are rich in saturated fats or trans fats are often the part of your diet
- Animal protein, dairy when consumed high, or around the week can lead to this condition
- Lack of exercise or lack of physical activity can lead to hyperlipidemia. Also, if you have a sedentary job, there is a risk of this condition
- Healthy fats should be the part of the diet. When one does eliminate them totally, then obviously is at the risk of this condition.
- Being overweight can also lead to this disease
- Drinking excess alcohol is also a risk factor
- When the weight circumference is high, it can lead to this disease
People suffering from kidney diseases, diabetes, PCOS, underactive thyroid, and pregnant women, and women who are taking birth control pills too suffer from high levels of cholesterol in the blood.
When diagnosed with hyperlipidemia, it is essential to understand the cause of the disease.
There can be 2 reasons for this disease.
- Genetic factors: One can inherit the disease from the parents. This is a condition called primary hyperlipidemia.
- Diet factors: Exposed to unhealthy diet practices can lead to this disease and can lead to secondary hyperlipidemia.
The major cause of the disease is that the body is not able to remove the excess fat. The fat builds in the blood and hampers the function of blood supply. This can lead not only to heart disease but also to the formation of blood clots and the stroke can be on the cards.
When a mutated gene is passed from the parent to the child, the malfunctioning LDL receptor is what the child suffers from. So, the LDL cannot be removed by the child. In such scenarios, the LDL deposits in the blood are at alarming levels. This is very common in a few ethnic groups.
- French Canadians,
- Christian Lebanese,
- South African Afrikaners, and
- Ashkenazi Jews
Are the groups that are affected by hyperlipidemia in major cases due to genetic factors.
For the other reason for the disease, refer to the risk factors. When one does not pay attention to the risk factors and fails to control them, then the very risk factors can turn into the cause for suffering from the hyperlipidemia. This means the condition is highly preventable and controllable when it is due to the food and lifestyle factors.
As there are no symptoms associated, often the checkups only throw light on this condition.
The lipid levels are hence given importance in the regular health checkups. A lipoprotein panel is a test taken to confirm the high levels of the LDL in the blood. In fact, in most of the cases, only when the patient suffers from a heart attack, the lipid test comes into the picture, if there are no regular health checkups conducted. In a few cases, doctors advise a lipid profile test to rule out the existence of high LDL levels in the patient affected by diabetes and from renal ailments
This test helps in determining the cholesterol levels in the body. The blood sample is given in the laboratory. The test results usually come back in a day or two. The tested factors are:
- Total cholesterol
It is essential to fast for 8 to 12 hours before giving the blood sample. Alternatively, the blood sample can be given as soon as one wakes up in the morning. Fasting can be tiresome, for one has to stay off from even drinking water for 12 hours, or at least 8 hours in the minimum. However, recently the studies prove that there is no need to fast for these tests anymore. But it is a wise idea to speak with the doctor or let the blood sample drawn after you wake up in the morning.
The cholesterol level has to be 200 mg per deciliter, and anything above that can be called high cholesterol levels. This can, however, vary for different people based on their medical history, and health condition. The lipid panel has to be assessed by the doctor and the results can be discussed pertaining to one’s specific condition.
The treatment cannot be done only with medications. Lots of lifestyle modifications have to pitch in. The doctor is the right person to decide what sort of diet and exercises can help in coming out of the condition. In a few people, diet and lifestyle changes alone can do the wonders. For the rest, medications should play a major role. Statins are the drugs that are used to prevent the cholesterol levels. These drugs can help in stopping the liver from producing cholesterol. They can also bring the cholesterol levels in the blood and popularly opted for. The fat making process of the liver is also managed by the nicotinic acid. The LDL cholesterol levels and the triglycerides are lowered by these drugs. Fibrates are also prescribed by the doctor to lower the LDL levels. They can also boost the HDL, but however, not a popular choice to bring down the LDL levels by the doctors.
The statins that are often prescribed include:
fluvastatin (Lescol XL)
There are also the bile binding resins given:
- Inhibitors that absorb cholesterol like Zetia
- Omega 3 fatty acid supplements
- Cholesterol-lowering supplements
- Injectable medicines like alirocumab and evolocumab
There are certain things one can do at home to manage hyperlipidemia. However, check with the doctor, if these would cause any complications because of the medicines that are taken.
- Always choose healthy fats. Saturated fats are found in bacon, meat, sausage, and full-fat dairy products. Avoid such saturated fats. Lean proteins like chicken, fish and turkey are the right choices. Olive oil and canola oil contain monosaturated fats and should be taken for cooking.
- Trans fats are a big no when suffering from hyperlipidemia. They are found in foods like cookies, bread, crackers, chips and anything that is processed and canned. It is essential to check the label of the foods you buy. When the term “partially hydrogenated oil” is seen on the label, it is better to avoid this food.
- Eating more omega 3 fatty acids can help the heart to stay healthy. They are found in fishes like mackerel, salmon, and herring. Nuts and seeds like walnuts and flax seeds too are rich in the omega 3 fatty acids.
- Try to cook the foods in a heart-healthy way. For instance, shallow fry instead of deep frying. Also, try to bake or steam to stay safe.
- The fibre intake should be high in the diet. Take lots of green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, beans, veggies, and other soluble fibres from the natural sources.
- Try to shed the excess pounds. When being overweight the cholesterol levels are high. Excess weight is also the risk factor for diabetes and heart diseases. Even 5 to 10 pounds can make a striking difference.
- It is essential to choose a healthy weight loss plan. For instance, do not try the crash diets. A low-calorie diet with exercises can help. Stay off from carbonated drinks and sugars.
- Involve in physical activities. 30 to 40 minutes of exercises per day helps a lot. Try the combo of different exercises. Swimming, jogging, walking, yoga, and a gym session can help beat the boredom and sticking to the sessions.
- Quit smoking. Quit consuming alcohol. It is essential to stay off from these habits, as both can lead to high cholesterol levels in the body. Also, it is essential to see that the habits are brought down gradually, else withdrawal effects are not easy to cope.
Hyperlipidemia is a condition one can win over easily, provided there are dedication and understanding of the complications.
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