Hyperlipidemia can be defined as a medical condition in which a patient has abnormally very high levels of fats or lipids (triglycerides and cholesterol) in the blood. Triglycerides are formed when the body stores the excess calories which are not required for energy generation. These come directly from the food such as red meat or whole-fat dairy products, as well as high-sugar, fructose and alcohol consumption raises the levels of triglycerides.
On the other hand, cholesterol (a fatty substance which travels through the bloodstream) is produced in the body naturally since it is used by every cell. It is formed because of fatty foods such as eggs, red meat and cheese. Hyperlipidemia is mainly caused due to excessive levels of cholesterol. High cholesterol levels can also be inherited or could be a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Excessive levels of cholesterol in the body tend to build-up on the walls of the blood vessels and form plaque, which ultimately grows larger and then starts to clogs the arteries. This can cause serious health conditions such as a heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.
Risk of Hyperlipidemia
Certain people are at more risk of developing hyperlipidemia than others. These people with the below lifestyle choices make themselves more prone to developing the condition.
- Eating high trans fat and saturated fat products
- Consuming animal protein such as red meat and diary
- Not engaging in physical exercise
- Obesity or overweight
- Not consuming healthy fats
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Large waist circumference
Moreover, abnormal cholesterol levels are also found in people with the following health conditions:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Underactive thyroid
- Genetic conditions
Some medications which increase the cholesterol levels in the body include:
- Birth control pills
- Depression medications
Prevention of Hyperlipidemia
Hyperlipidemia can be easily prevented provided one makes healthy lifestyle and dietary choices. Some of the preventive measures include:
Eating a healthy diet: A healthy and hearty diet can minimize saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol. Moreover, consuming whole fruits and green vegetables, fibre, whole grain foods and drinking lots of water also helps to prevent Hyperlipidemia. One should restrict or eliminate unhealthy items such as fast food, high carbohydrate foods, or any other form of processed foods from the diet. Choosing olive oil over other fatty oils and including healthful fats such as fish, nuts and legumes can help people reduce their LDL cholesterol levels.
Maintaining a healthy weight: People with excessive weight or the ones who are obese are at a very high risk of developing hyperlipidemia and consequently related heart diseases.Hence, maintain a healthy weight can help one prevent the risk of hyperlipidemia by reducing the level of LDL, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Moreover, it can boost HDL, which eventually helps to flush out LDL from the blood.
Physical exercise: Sedentary lifestyle or lack of physical exerciseis another risk factor of Hyperlipidemia. Hence, engaging in regular physical exercises and maintaining an active lifestyle can help one raise HDL, reduce LDL and help with weight loss. A person should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise every week.
No smoking: Smoking tobacco is known to trigger problems which can contribute to heart issues. It further promotes LDL levels in the body and also pushes atherosclerosis and encourages inflammation and formation of blood clots. Hence, to prevent Hyperlipidemia, one must quit smoking tobacco which will increase levels of HDL in the body and prevent cardiovascular problems.
Treatment of Hyperlipidemia
Mostly hyperlipidemia can be managed by self through the adoption of a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and engaging in a form of physical workout. This helps to reduce the levels of lipoproteins in the body which are proteins enabling the cholesterol to travel through the bloodstream.
However, in cases where self-management and home care methods fail to improve the condition of the person or the high level of cholesterol is a result of a genetic problem, then the doctor might prescribe targeted medications. Some of the common cholesterol-lowering medications include:
- Statins help to prevent the liver from producing cholesterol and hence, lower the level of LDL in the body.
- Nicotinic acid, which impacts the way the liver makes fat in the body. These medications help to reduce LDL levels and raise HDL simultaneously.
- Fibrates which target the liver to lower the triglycerides and trigger more HDL production in the body.
- Bile-acid-binding resins, which trick the body to use up cholesterol. These resins bind to the bile (acid used in digestion), restricting it to function effectively. In such a case, the liver makes more bile to substitute which is fuelled by more cholesterol, ultimately reducing cholesterol levels in the blood.
Overall, Hyperlipidemia can be easily prevented provided one takes effective precautionary measures well in time. Moreover, in cases where the condition cannot be prevented, certain medications can easily cure the condition, if the diagnosis is made early and adequate medical treatment is initiated. If not treated timely and adequately, hyperlipidemia can cause serious health issues and can be life-threatening.