May 28 2021
Hyperlipidemia is the scientific term for high levels of lipids or fats in the blood, abnormally and is commonly known as high cholesterol. The levels of triglycerides and cholesterol are seen to be elevated in this condition. Hyperlipidemia doesn’t usually have any symptoms, but it can eventually lead to heart diseases, stroke or even death. Cholesterol is a waxy fat molecule produced by the liver, which is an important component for brain functioning, storing of vitamins, hormone production and healthy cell membrane. When the cholesterol levels are high, it can build up on the blood vessels and form plaque, the deposits of which grow bigger and can cause clogged arteries. This may cause heart diseases over time.
Lipoproteins are the proteins that carry the molecules of cholesterol through the bloodstream. They are of two types: Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is bad cholesterol and HDL is considered as good cholesterol. HDL counteracts the reactions of LDL (it allows extra cholesterol to build up in the bloodstream), which has negative effects on the health of a person. HDL has some positive effects on the body as it is responsible for carrying excess amounts of cholesterol to the liver for it to excrete. This excess cholesterol is eliminated by the liver through the action of bile juices.
Triglycerides, on the other hand, are not at all related to cholesterol but are closely linked to heart diseases. A person can develop hyperlipidemia if the levels of HDL, LDL, or triglycerides are high. So, doctors usually measure the levels of each of these.
Diagnosis of hyperlipidemia
Doctors usually detect hyperlipidemia through a blood test, known as a lipid panel or lipid profile. This test is used to determine the cholesterol levels of a person. A sample of blood is taken and tested, which gives the cumulative reports of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides.
The healthy levels of cholesterol are:
- LDL Cholesterol: less than 70 mg/dl.
- HDL cholesterol: more than 50 mg/dl for women and more than 40 mg/dl for men.
- Triglyceride levels: less than 150 mg/dl.
The doctor also may ask the person to fast for 8 to 12 hours before this test, which means avoiding food or beverages before the blood is drawn. However, fasting isn’t necessary in all the cases, research suggests. It is highly recommended to go by the doctor’s instructions concerning the particular health concerns.
Symptoms of hyperlipidemia
People who have hyperlipidemia usually show no symptoms, but they might experience fatty growths around eyes and joints (in the case of inherited hyperlipidemia). This condition can be detected in a routine blood test or following a cardiovascular event (a stroke or heart attack).
When a large number of fat deposits over time, a condition called atherosclerosis can be seen. This happens when the plaques develop on the walls of blood vessels and make the openings narrower, making blood flow unstable throughout the bloodstream.
Causes of hyperlipidemia
The main causes of hyperlipidemia are:
- Lifestyle: an unhealthy lifestyle is often responsible for increased “bad” cholesterol levels. This includes poor diet, lack of physical activity etc, and is medically termed as secondary hyperlipidemia.
- Genetics: genetic factors can also be a major cause of hyperlipidemia. A person affected by this type, inherits it from his parents. This form is also known as primary hyperlipidemia.
There are other risk factors for this condition, such as diabetes, premature menopause, prolonged kidney disease, underactive thyroid glands, pregnancy, metabolic diseases, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity etc. primary hyperlipidemia is developed as a result of a genetic disorder. The parent passes down a gene (mutated) which leads to a damaged LDL receptor, which causes increased LDL production as its excretion is stopped.
How can hyperlipidemia be prevented?
Along with medications, some lifestyle changes should also be implemented in order to prevent hyperlipidemia. They are:
- Weight management: People who are overweight are usually at a greater risk of heart diseases and high cholesterol. Doctors always recommend overweight patients to lose weight to facilitate the treatment of hyperlipidemia. It may also boost up the production of HDL in the body which also helps in the excretion of LDL from the blood. Other high-intensity workouts like skipping, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), hiking, brisk walking can also help in weight loss and prevention of obesity.
- Be physically active: being lethargic and not doing physical activity is as bad as not taking proper medications for heart disease. Regular exercises such as jogging, walking, swimming, aerobics etc can very well encourage weight loss by reducing the levels of LDL and enhancing the functioning of HDL. Doctors recommend 150 minutes of workout in a week, with moderate intensity. Being physically active is linked to increased HDL production, good heart health and also for the overall health scenario.
- Quit smoking: smoking triggers many health issues, such as atherosclerosis, increased LDL levels, blood clotting and inflammation, which might lead to heart diseases and increased cholesterol levels. Quitting smoking always result helps in enhancing the production and functioning of HDL, which is the reason for the decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases after smoking. A person with hyperlipidemia can improve this condition by strictly staying away from smoking and following a nutrient-rich diet.
- A healthy diet: a “heart friendly” diet can surely reduce the LDL levels by minimizing the intake of Trans fat, saturated fats, dietary cholesterol. It must include whole fruits and vegetables, lots of water, whole grain foods and lots of fibers. People with hyperlipidemia should try to eliminate fast foods from their diets, along with high carbohydrates and processed foods. They do not offer good nutritional values.
Consuming fish, nuts, legumes, seeds contain “healthy” fats that can benefit a person by enhancing the production and functioning of HDL, the healthy type of cholesterol and reducing the high levels of LDL.
Alvizia’s omega-3 fish oil supplement is a supplement available in the form of soft gelatin capsules, having several health benefits like lowering of “bad” cholesterol, bone density, brain health, heart health and so on.