Hyperlipidemia affects approximately 25 million adults in the United States alone. Sadly, more and more young people are developing this risky health condition.
Let’s explore what hyperlipidemia is, its risks, and how routine screening helps patients be healthier longer.
What Is Hyperlipidemia?
Simply put, hyperlipidemia is a medical term referring to increased levels of fats circulating in the blood. Hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol, is 240 mg/dl or higher as measured by a routine blood test during a person’s annual wellness check-up with their PCP or a cardiologist or other provider as part of ongoing specialty care.
The circulating cholesterol measures are reported as blood levels of HDL, high-density lipids, LDL, low-density lipids, and triglycerides. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol. It helps transport fats to the liver for processing and use in bodily processes. LDL is the “bad” cholesterol, which can accumulate in blood vessels and form harmful plaque. Triglycerides are fats that come directly from the foods we eat.
Why Screening for Hyperlipidemia Is Important
Left undetected and untreated, hyperlipidemia can lead to serious blockages within the coronary arteries, which feed the heart, peripheral arteries in the lower extremities, and even arteries in the neck that deliver oxygenated blood to the brain. The sooner your healthcare provider detects hyperlipidemia, the sooner you can develop a treatment plan to control it and avoid complications.
As such, most men should begin screening yearly at age 35 or younger. For women, the age is 45 or younger. Some doctors believe all patients should be screened for high cholesterol at age 20.
If there is a high tendency for cardiovascular disease in the family history, that patient should begin routine screening earlier than the standard recommendation. For instance, if a male first-degree relative had serious cardiovascular disease or an event earlier than age 50, the patient should begin close monitoring at an earlier age as determined in consultation with the provider. If a female first-degree relative had CAD or an event earlier than age 60, close monitoring through blood draws should begin sooner than the standard recommendation.
When you get a routine blood draw, your doctor will discuss the results with you, informing you if you have cholesterol levels within normal limits or not. Also, he or she will discuss the steps you can take to manage your numbers. Interventions can include medications, smoking cessation, diet modifications, limiting alcohol intake, and routine exercise.
Additionally, people should track their blood pressure, weight, and other measures of health and well-being to reduce the chances of developing acute conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, and more. Some medications also may increase cholesterol levels, so it’s wise to discuss all prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements and what effect they may have on HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels.
Hyperlipidemia Care in Sarasota and Bradenton, FL
At Intercoastal Medical Group, our internal medicine and family practice providers emphasize the importance of routine screening for cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugars, and other measures of healthy metabolic function. They work with our cardiologists to ensure that those at risk for cardiovascular disease get the treatment they need to avoid long-term problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and others.
If you would like to know more about cholesterol screening, please call the location nearest you for a wellness check with your physician. We have onsite lab services in five of your locations for your convenience.