According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 94 million adults have hyperlipidemia, which is also known as high cholesterol. "Hyperlipidemia refers to elevated levels of lipids in the blood such as cholesterol or triglycerides," Dr. Michael Goyfman, MD, chief of cardiology at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills (LIJ Forest Hills) hospital, part of Northwell Health in New York explains to Eat This, Not That! Heath. Hyperlipidemia is important to diagnose and manage because if left untreated, serious health issues like stroke or heart attack can happen. Dr. Goyfman shares what to know about hyperlipidemia and signs to watch out for. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Why It's Important to Have Hyperlipidemia in Check
Dr. Goyfman says, "Of the various lipids, the one that receives a lot of attention is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is colloquially referred to as the "bad cholesterol." Elevated LDL levels can result in a higher risk of strokes and heart attacks."
Signs You Have Hyperlipidemia
According to Dr. Goyfman, "The vast majority of patients with hyperlipidemia will have no signs or symptoms unless they present with a complication such as stroke or heart attack. Some people may have yellowish deposits of cholesterol round the eyelids called xanthelasma, which are associated with higher levels of LDL. Because this condition does not really have signs or symptoms, most people undergo blood testing at regular intervals to check their lipid levels."
What Causes Hyperlipidemia?
"Hyperlipidemia occurs from both environmental factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise, as well as from genetic factors (it can run in the family)," says Dr. Goyfman.
The Cleveland Clinic says, "Various hyperlipidemia causes include:
Drinking a lot of alcohol.
Eating foods that have a lot of saturated fats or trans fats.
Sitting too much instead of being active.
Inheriting genes that make your cholesterol levels unhealthy.
Medications that are helpful for some problems can make your cholesterol levels fluctuate, such as:
Hormonal birth control.
Antiretrovirals for HIV.
Medical problems can also affect how much cholesterol you have. These include:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Primary biliary cirrhosis.
Chronic kidney disease.
How Does Hyperlipidemia Affect Your Overall Health?
Dr. Goyfman says, "While people may not necessarily feel symptoms directly, hyperlipidemia increases one's risk of having a stroke or heart attack."
The Cleveland Clinic states, "Hyperlipidemia can be very serious if it's not controlled. As long as high cholesterol is untreated, you're letting plaque accumulate inside your blood vessels. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke because your blood has a hard time getting through your blood vessels. This deprives your brain and heart of the nutrients and oxygen they need to function. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Americans."
How Can You Prevent Hyperlipidemia?
Dr. Goyfman states, "Hyperlipidemia can be prevented by performing lifestyle modifications including a healthy diet, exercise (150 minutes per week), and control of stress (yoga, meditation, etc.). Since some people have a genetic predisposition for the condition, it cannot be prevented even with lifestyle interventions. "
How to Take Care of Yourself with Hyperlipidemia?
Dr. Goyfman states, "Hyperlipidemia can be prevented by performing lifestyle modifications including a healthy diet, exercise (150 minutes per week), and control of stress (yoga, meditation, etc.). Since some people have a genetic predisposition for the condition, it cannot be prevented even with lifestyle interventions."
"The lifestyle modifications as noted above are a mainstay of treatment," Dr. Goyfman emphasizes. "However, if the lipid numbers are still not at target despite these interventions, there are several types of medications that can be prescribed by your doctor to treat the condition and bring the levels back to target levels."
The Cleveland Clinic says, "Here are things you can do yourself:
Sleep at least seven hours each night.
Control your stress level.
Eat healthier foods.
Limit how much alcohol you drink.
Stay at a healthy weight.
Other things you can do:
If your provider ordered medicine for you, be sure to keep taking it as the label tells you to do.
Keep your follow-up appointments."