Hyperlipidemia is a very common medical condition in the United States. Most patients who have it know that it has something to do with cholesterol, but not everyone knows what exactly cholesterol’s role is in hyperlipidemia.
In this blog, we will go over these terms, what exactly they mean, and the relationship between them.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs to do a lot of functions, such as to build cells, make vitamins and hormones, and circulate blood.
Cholesterol comes from two sources: your liver and foods that you consume. Your liver makes the right amount of cholesterol for your body, so you don’t need to rely on food to fulfill your body’s needs. The cholesterol that comes from animal products is often unhealthy and causes your liver to make more cholesterol than the body needs.
Two important cholesterol components are LDLs and HDLs. Low-density lipids (LDLs) refer to bad cholesterol and cause buildup and blockages in your arteries. High-density lipids (HDLs) refer to good cholesterol.HDLs help remove buildup and blockages from your arteries. Your body also has triglycerides, which is a type of lipid/fat that comes from fats that you consume. Common sources include butter and oils.
A healthy person has high levels of HDLs and low levels of LDLs and triglycerides in their body. You can check your levels of all these lipids through a blood test, commonly known as a lipid panel.
What is Hyperlipidemia?
Hyperlipidemia is a condition in which a person has too much bad cholesterol (LDL) and/or triglycerides in their body. As such, cholesterol, particularly the bad forms of it, plays an integral role in the development of hyperlipidemia.
About half of all American adults have hyperlipidemia. This condition can be caused by a lot of factors, which include:
- Lack of routine exercise
- Too much alcohol
- Thyroid, kidney,or liver disease
Why is Hyperlipemia a Concern?
Hyperlipidemia is a concerning condition that should be taken seriously. First, it is often undetectable without a blood test. Most people are unaware they have this condition and don’t bother getting a blood test to get it checked. When it is discovered, they are often surprised because they are asymptomatic.
Second, hyperlipidemia causes a variety of conditions that can be life threatening. Examples include the following:
- Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)Accumulated plaque can block blood flow to the heart muscle, causing permanent damage, which is commonly referred to as a heart attack.
- Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)A chronic condition that can lead to heart attack and stroke, coronary artery disease is visible on angiography and detectable through symptoms such as shortness of breath, angina, and chest tightness that comes and goes.
- Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)Caused by clots that block blood flow to the brain, stroke and TIA can cause substantial damage to cognition, speech, movement, and more. Stroke damage is permanent, while the symptoms of a TIA are brief and resolve spontaneously.
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)Numbness, tingling, weakness, and coldness in one or both extremities signal peripheral artery disease. PAD is similar to CAD, because its symptoms result from accumulated fatty plaque, but instead of impacting the heart, PAD harms the legs, ankles, and feet.
- Aortic Aneurysm Slow in development but potentially deadly, an aortic aneurysm is a structural weakening of the main artery of the heart, the aorta. As plaque buildsup in the artery, so does internal pressure. A weak spot can develop, which can suddenly balloon and rupture, requiring emergency medical intervention.
Lipid Panel Testing in Sarasota and Bradenton, FL
At Intercoastal Medical Group, we have nine board-certified cardiologists on staff to help you achieve your healthiest cholesterol levels and to treat any conditions resulting from hyperlipidemia. They see patients at our Beneva Cardiology, Cattleridge Medical Building II, and Lakewood Ranch II offices. We are pleased to serve the communities of Sarasota and Bradenton, FL.