Hyperlipidemia is a common health condition that means you have too many lipids (or fats) in the blood, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. The condition rarely causes symptoms in its early stages but can lead to serious health complications, such as coronary heart disease, if left untreated. The good news is that hyperlipidemia can usually be managed successfully with lifestyle changes and medications.
Cholesterol and Hyperlipidemia
Cholesterol is essential for the normal functioning of the body and is used to help digest food and create hormones, cell membranes, and vitamin D. It is produced in the liver but is also found in some of the foods that we eat, mainly animal products, such as meat, cheese, and dairy. Cholesterol gets carried around the body by proteins in the blood. It combines with these proteins to become lipoproteins. There are several types of lipoproteins:
- High-density lipoproteins (HDL), which are good for your health because they take excess cholesterol back to the liver.
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), are a bad type of lipoprotein that carries cholesterol around the body. This can cause it to build up in the walls of the arteries.
- Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), is also bad because it carries triglycerides, which can add to artery plaque.
Although cholesterol is important for health, too much of it can cause health problems. Hyperlipidemia is estimated to affect as many as 93 million American adults over the age of 20. It can be a serious condition if not managed properly, resulting in a buildup of a fatty substance, known as plaque, inside the blood vessels. This can prevent vital nutrients and oxygen from reaching the heart and brain, which can result in serious health complications, such as a heart attack or stroke.
Risk Factors of Hyperlipidemia
There are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of hyperlipidemia or cause cholesterol to become too high, including:
- Eating foods with high saturated fat or trans fats
- Consuming a lot of alcohol
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a family history of hyperlipidemia, heart disease, or stroke
- Taking certain types of medications, such as beta-blockers or diuretics
- Having an underlying health condition, such as liver disease, diabetes, or hypothyroidism
How is Hyperlipidemia Diagnosed?
Hyperlipidemia is often diagnosed with a thorough evaluation of your personal and family medical history, a physical exam, and a blood test, known as a lipid profile, to check cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood. A test to calculate your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease may also be recommended.
In some cases, other tests may also be done to diagnose hyperlipidemia, including:
- High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) test
- Lipoprotein (a) test
- Apolipoprotein B test
- Coronary calcium scan
Treatment for Hyperlipidemia
The purpose of treatment for hyperlipidemia is to improve cholesterol levels. In some situations, making healthy lifestyle changes may be all that is necessary to bring cholesterol levels down to a healthy range. This can include:
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat and trans fats and high in plant-based foods and soluble fiber
- Stopping smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake.
- Managing stress levels
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting good quality sleep
Medication may be recommended when dietary and lifestyle changes alone are not enough to lower cholesterol levels. There are several types of prescription medications available to help lower cholesterol, and the type that is right for you will depend on factors such as your overall health and personal risk factors. Sometimes, a combination of medications may also be necessary.
Statins are the most popular type of medication used to treat high cholesterol. They help to lower the level of LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol in the liver. There are different types of statins available, including Atorvastatin, Fluvastatin, Pitavastatin, and Lovastatin.
Statins are usually required long-term, even if cholesterol levels are reduced. Most people tolerate them well, but sometimes, they can cause side effects such as muscle and joint pain, headaches, and nausea. Although there can be side effects with statins, the benefits of treatment often far outweigh them. However, you should let your health provider know if you are experiencing side effects so that they can develop a plan to help manage your symptoms effectively.
Other types of medication may be recommended in addition to statins or as an alternative if you are unable to take statins. These could include:
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors, such as ezetimibe
- Bile-acid sequestrants, such as cholestyramine
- Bempedoic acid
- PCSK9 inhibitors, such as alirocumab
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements (if you have high triglycerides)
To manage your condition successfully, you should always take your medications as prescribed. You will require regular monitoring by your health provider as part of your treatment plan. This is to evaluate and monitor your cholesterol levels, the effectiveness of your medications, and any side effects of medications.
Hyperlipidemia Treatment Near Mein Sarasota and Bradenton, FL
If you would like to learn more about treatment for hyperlipidemia or are concerned about your cholesterol levels, contact the highly qualified physicians at Intercoastal Medical Group for the expert care you deserve.
At Intercoastal Medical, we have more than 100 dedicated, highly trained providers and specialists in multiple convenient locations to provide you with top-quality comprehensive healthcare services.
To schedule an appointment or to find out more about our services, visit us at one of our convenient offices, including the Beneva Cardiology office in Sarasota, Cattleridge Medical Building II in Sarasota, or the Lakewood Ranch II office in Bradenton. Alternatively, you can use our link to schedule an appointment online.