Hyperlipidemia Treatment Questions and Answers
When it comes to your cholesterol numbers, it is important to know them as your overall health can be dependent on it. Many show no symptoms when it comes to hyperlipidemia. However, overtime you may show symptoms based on which blood vessels become blocked. Some of these symptoms include:
- Angina/Chest pain
- Heart attack symptoms like:
o Chest pain
o Pain or pressure in your shoulders, arms, back, neck or jaw
o Shortness of breath
- Stroke symptoms like:
o Sudden and severe headaches
o Weakness, numbness, tingling, or even loss of movement on one side of the body
o Trouble speaking or thinking clearly
o Partial vision loss in one eye
- Peripheral Artery Disease (AKA PAD) like:
o Leg discomfort
o Leg pain or cramping when walking, it does go away when resting
o Pain in the ball of your foot or toes when you are at rest
o In very serious cases, foot ulcers, skin discoloration, infections and even gangrene
What is hyperlipidemia?
Hyperlipidemia means that your blood has too many lipids or fats like cholesterol and triglycerides. It is an umbrella term that refers to several acquired or genetic disorders that result in a high level of lipids within your blood. One type of hyperlipidemia is hypercholesterolemia. Hypercholesterolemia is when you have too much non-HDL cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol in your bloodstream. This condition can increase fatty deposits in your arteries and run the risk of blockages.
What is the main cause of hyperlipidemia?
While there are a few causes of hyperlipidemia, the main causes commonly associated with hyperlipidemia are high-fat diets, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and diabetes.
There are also other causes such as genetic causes. One of which is familial hypercholesterolemia, one form of hyperlipidemia which is dominantly inherited genetically through a disorder in humans worldwide. It results in mutations from genes involving proteins in a form of cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) that can then lead to early-onset atherosclerosis.
To diagnose hyperlipidemia, a blood test is needed to analyze the lipid levels. This blood test is traditionally performed after an overnight fast. Results are usually reported as levels of LDL cholesterol; VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol; HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol; as well as total cholesterol.
The “bad” cholesterols are LDL and VLDL which increase the risk for atherosclerosis.
How serious is hyperlipidemia?
As mentioned previously, hyperlipidemia is linked to atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. This happens when your blood vessels become hard or narrow from plaque buildup. This may lead to serious and possibly life-threatening complications including:
- Heart attack
This happens when blood flow to your heart becomes blocked.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to your brain becomes blocked.
- Peripheral Artery Disease, also known as PAD
Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD occurs when blood flow to your arms or legs becomes blocked.
Some may be able to lower their cholesterol and triglycerides with simple lifestyle changes alone, many may also need medications to help. Your doctor may suggest following up with a registered dietician which is a specialized nutritionist that can help you make healthy food choices.
If you have hyperlipidemia, your doctor will create a treatment plan specifically for you and your needs. Healthy lifestyle choices do play a large part in treating and preventing hyperlipidemia including:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet that is lower in fat and sugar, but higher in fiber including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy products.
- Getting regular physical activity like going for walks, hiking or other physical activities
- Avoiding or quitting smoking all together
If you or someone you know thinks you might have hyperlipidemia, contact your doctor at Family First Medical Group today. We are here to make sure you are on the healthy path to success. We serve patients from Evergreen Park IL, Mokena IL, Oak Lawn IL, Chicago Ridge IL, Hickory Hills IL, Bridgeview IL and Bedford Park IL.