Hyperlipidemia is the term for above normal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. While hyperlipidemia usually has no symptoms, it increases your risk of developing heart disease, and may lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Causes of Hyperlipidemia
The causes and risk factors of hyperlipidemia include:
- Obesity. Someone with a higher BMI will tend to have poor cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Poor diet. Diets high in fatty foods can cause increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Family history. High cholesterol is often seen to be genetically linked. If someone in your family has or had high cholesterol or hyperlipidemia, you have a higher chance of developing it.
- High alcohol consumption. Increased alcohol intake is closely linked to high triglyceride levels.
- Kidney disease. Nearly half of all people with chronic kidney failure have high or very high triglyceride levels.
- Certain medication. Medications, including steroids, estrogen, birth control and diuretics, may have side effects that lead to increased cholesterol or triglycerides.
Health Risks Associated with Hyperlipidemia
Hyperlipidemia puts you at higher risk of developing a number of health conditions. This includes a heightened risk of:
- Developing coronary heart disease
- Developing metabolic syndrome
- Heart attack
Diagnosis of Hyperlipidemia
Hyperlipidemia is diagnosed based on the levels of lipids, cholesterol and triglyceride, in the blood.
LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol, in that it collects along artery walls and is a contributing factor to clogged arteries.
- Ideal: Under 100 mg/dL
- Borderline Ideal: 100-129 mg/dL
- Borderline High: 130-159 mg/dL
- High: 160-189 mg/dL
- Very High: Above 190 mg/Dl
HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol, in that it prevents LDL cholesterol from damaging arteries by removing LDL cholesterol from where it doesn’t belong. Higher levels of HDL are preferred.
- Low: 40 mg/dL
- Ideal: 60 mg/dL
Total cholesterol (combined total of HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol):
- Ideal: Under 200 mg/dL (milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood)
- Borderline High: Between 200 and 239 mg/dL
- High: Above 240 mg/dL
Triglycerides are fat found in the blood used for energy and stored in various places around the body.
- Optimal: Under 150 mg/dL
- Borderline High: 150-199 mg/dL
- High: Above 200 mg/dL
Hyperlipidemia is treatable, and it’s most often done by losing weight and avoiding fatty foods and alcohol. Losing as little as five to ten percent of excess weight can help to reverse or lower risk of developing hyperlipidemia. Medication is sometimes used to control cholesterol and triglyceride levels if they don’t seem to react to weight loss. Additionally, bariatric surgeries, such as the LAP-BAND procedure, have been known to improve hyperlipidemia in over 70% of patients.