Dyslipidemia (High Cholesterol)
Dyslipidemia is a condition in which a person has abnormal levels of blood cholesterol or other lipids, commonly called high cholesterol. Cholesterol and triglycerides are lipids, a fatty substance stored in our body and used for providing energy. The types of lipids are total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides. Ideally, these lipids should be maintained within a healthy range; fluctuations in these levels can cause health concerns.
Desirable Levels Of Lipids Are Given As:
- Total cholesterol – below 200 mg/dL
- Triglycerides – below 150 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) – below 100 mg/dL
below 70 mg/dL for diabetics or heart patients
- HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) – men: above 40 mg/dL
women: above 50 mg/dL
The commonly observed types of dyslipidemia include rise in the total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol or low levels of HDL cholesterol as compared to the desirable values.
How Does Dyslipidemia Affect Your Health?
High blood cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides can affect your health and may lead to serious problems. Excess cholesterol in blood can get deposited in the inner lining of blood vessels or arteries, which carry blood from the heart to all parts of your body. This deposition can cause narrowing of arteries, which can obstruct the blood flowing through the arteries. This process called atherosclerosis, gradually continues and can become worse with time. Due to clogging of arteries, blood reaching the body parts gets reduced, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Low levels of HDL cholesterol can also contribute to the fat deposition in arteries and have similar effect; on the contrary having high levels of HDL cholesterol can help in preventing or removing the excess LDL cholesterol built up within the arteries.
Causes of Dyslipidemia
High cholesterol can be influenced by various factors like diet, exercise, lifestyle and some medical conditions.
Some Of The Causes Of Dyslipidemia Are As Below:
- Excess weight can contribute to increase in bad cholesterol.
- Dietary intake of excess fats and saturated fatty foods can add to the rise in cholesterol levels.
- Exercise or physical activity is linked with lipid levels; sedentary life increases the risk of high cholesterol.
- Familial disposition affects the way a person metabolizes lipids and can increase a person’s risk of high cholesterol at an early age.
- Increased stress may also be related, as it can affect a person’s dietary choices, disturbances in routine or physical activity
Some Medical Conditions That Can Contribute To High Cholesterol Include:
- Diabetes– Increased blood glucose levels for a prolonged period can increase triglycerides and cholesterol deposition in arteries.
- Hypothyroidism – As this affects body’s metabolism, it also influences the regulation of lipids. If hypothyroidism remains unnoticed and untreated, it can cause high levels of LDL and triglycerides.
- Conditions like Cushing syndrome, polycystic ovarian disease can increase the risk of high cholesterol.
Symptoms of Dyslipidemia
Dyslipidemia is one of the risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke, which mainly occurs due to lack of sufficient blood supply to the body parts. While dyslipidemia does not produce noticeable symptoms, the complaints becoming visible may already be the beginning of some more serious medical conditions.
By the time any symptoms are experienced, the process of narrowing of the arteries may have already begun, which can pose a threat for major cardiovascular disorders. Due to insufficient blood supply, a person may experience tightness or pain in chest, which may even radiate to right hand, neck and jaw.
Hence, it is important to consider the risk factors and causes for dyslipidemia and begin taking the necessary steps towards early detection and treatment or prevention at best.
Diagnosis of Dyslipidemia
Definite diagnosis can be made by performing blood tests that detect the various types of lipids. While single tests to determine only specific type of lipid are also done, ideally a complete lipid profile test is ordered.
Lipid profile test measures total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL and their relevant ratios. The interpretation of the test is made with patient values, which can be compared with the ranges given as desirable, borderline high risk, high and very high.
Treatment Of Dyslipidemia
Treatment mainly includes, managing the controllable risk factors with diet, exercise and lifestyle. Also treating hypertension, diabetes or other medical conditions is important. Additionally, if the physician assesses the risk of heart disease, medications like statins may be advised.
Lifestyle Modification To Manage Dyslipidemia
While persons with dyslipidemia need to incorporate a heart healthy lifestyle, it is in best advantage for all to follow it. Some lifestyle changes that are advised include,
- Maintain ideal weight for your body, lose weight if required. It can help to reduce blood cholesterol and maintain normal blood pressure. Avoid smoking and observe a healthy routine. Manage your stress and practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.
- Diet– Eat a healthy meal with more high fiber grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat milk. Include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and healthy fats like olive or canola oil. Avoid saturated fats like cheese or butter, sweets, junk food and colas.
- Exercise- Perform aerobic exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week. Walking can be the best for all, while some can take up jogging, swimming or cycling.