Hyperlipidemia is defined as too many fats or lipids in the bloodstream. At correct levels, lipids can perform many important functions in the body, but can cause health issues if they are in excess. Hyperlipidemia can cover numerous conditions, but it usually comes down to two very common ones: high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Cholesterol can be found in fats (lipid) in your blood. The fat protein complexes in your blood are called lipoproteins and are best known as:
- LDL (low density lipoprotein)
- HDL (high density lipoprotein)
Your body needs the cholesterol to continue building healthy cells. However, having high levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase your chances of developing heart disease.
When you have high cholesterol (excessive LDL) your body may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. After time, these deposits can make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. This may prevent blood from flowing to vital organs like your heart or brain, which could lead to heart attack or stroke.
In contrast, if you have a low level of HDL cholesterol in your blood, your chances for coronary heart disease are greatly increased. Low HDL cholesterol levels are generally accompanied by high triglycerides.
Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any extra calories it doesn’t need into triglycerides. These are then stored in your fat cells. Later, your body will release the triglycerides as needed for energy. If you usually eat more calories than you burn (especially if the calories come from carbohydrates or fats) then you may have high triglyceride levels.
High triglycerides usually indicate other health conditions that increase your risk of stroke, heart disease and heart attack.
To diagnose hyperlipidemia, your doctor will perform a routine blood test to check your levels of cholesterol and triglyceride. If you’ve been diagnosed with hyperlipidemia, your treatment will depend upon the type lipids that are too high (or too low).
Most commonly, cases of hyperlipidemia are treated with:
- Medication that works to lower the LDL cholesterol in your blood.
- Intensive dietary changes
- Regular exercise
If you are obese or struggling with your weight, your risk to develop hyperlipidemia is greatly increased. It is important that you consult your doctor or weight loss specialist if you believe that you may be at risk. With the right treatment plan you can not only maintain your cholesterol levels, but you can also lose weight and work towards a healthier lifestyle.