What is dyslipidemia? In this article, we will take a closer look at this blood disorder, with dyslipidemia symptoms and tips to treat the condition. We are constantly bombarded with warnings against high cholesterol, but did you know that we need a certain amount of cholesterol to regenerate cells? When our blood contains excess lipids—or fats, which include cholesterol and triglycerides—the dyslipidemia definition comes into play. Serious and life-threatening health conditions may occur.
Whenever our blood carries an abnormally high amount of fat, we are considered to have dyslipidemia. The term “dyslipidemia” can be broken down into three parts: dys meaning abnormal, lipid referring to cholesterol, and emia as in the blood. Dyslipidemia is commonly classified as one of two types. These are hypercholesterolemia, known as high cholesterol, and hypertriglyceridemia, meaning high triglycerides. Dyslipidemia can be seen with high blood levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL; “bad” cholesterol), as well as with a lower level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL; “good” cholesterol).
Dyslipidemia and other blood problems are generally split into etiology and phenotype categories. Etiology refers to the root cause of the blood disorder, such as genetics. Any hereditary case of this disorder can prove difficult to regulate. Phenotype refers to the way the disorder presents itself, and is seen with an increased presence of lipids.
Dyslipidemia is observed in both sexes, but appears to affect men disproportionately as they age. Still, the risk for the disorder grows higher with age regardless of gender, increasing at 45 for males and at 55 for females. Dyslipidemia is a treatable and preventable condition that, if left unattended, can lead to serious cardiovascular issues such as cardiac arrest or stroke. Genetics, high blood pressure disease, smoking, and having high levels of lipoprotein in the blood may also increase your risk for contracting this blood disorder.
The dyslipidemia disorder itself does not offer symptoms, but it can be seen with coronary artery diseases and other vascular diseases. The accompanying symptoms may include one or more of the following.
- Shortness of breath known as dyspnea
- Chest pain from a lack of blood supply to the heart
- Pain in the abdomen from insufficient blood supply to the intestines
- Acute pancreatitis from excess triglycerides levels in the bloodstream
- Difficulty speaking, known as aphasia
- Calf pain while walking
- Walking impairment
- Balance issues
- Corneal arcus disease characterized by a white arc on the cornea
- Heart disease
- Stroke from decreased blood flow to the brain
- Kidney disease
- Deep, painful lumps in tendons of the elbow, Achilles tendon, and knee, known as tendinous xanthomas
What Causes Dyslipidemia?
Dyslipidemia causes can be isolated into two separate categories, known as primary and secondary.
1. Primary Dyslipidemia Causes
These disorders arise due to genetic factors, and are mostly seen in children. Gene mutations attribute to an excess in the cholesterol production.
2. Secondary Dyslipidemia Causes
A secondary dyslipidemia case occurs in adults, as the actions of the patient contribute to the cause. Lifestyle choices are the most common influences. This equates to a sedentary lifestyle that may result in poor nutrition, such as consuming high-fat foods containing saturated fats, cholesterol, and trans fats. These trans fats can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids found in processed and fried food products. Secondary dyslipidemia can be liked to:
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Prolonged use of medications such as estrogens, corticosteroids, and contraceptives
Knowing your cholesterol numbers can save your life. Anyone over the age of 20 years should have a lipoprotein profile performed. This shows the amount of good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), and triglycerides. A lipoprotein profile is done by withdrawing blood on an empty stomach and then again three hours later, after eating.
Diagnostic tests are conducted with laboratory tests that measure blood lipid levels. As it is important to determine the lipid levels based on a continuum, periodic testing is advised. Tests will detect the plasma cholesterol levels, individual lipoproteins, and triglycerides of the blood. For a precise reading, it is advised to fast for the test.
Dyslipidemia treatment is in accordance with your health condition, age, and symptoms experienced. A medical history as well as the family history of heart disease will also be taken into consideration. Doctors may prescribe medication such as statins, which slow down the liver enzymes to prevent a buildup of fatty acids. Fibrates is another drug commonly used with statins to promote an increase in good cholesterol levels. Aside from prescription medications, there are various natural ways to help lower your cholesterol levels.
1. Healthy Diet
Consume low-fat, low-calorie, low-cholesterol, and trans-fat free foods. These can include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish. Limit amounts of dairy and red meat products, and avoid deep fried and sugary foods.
2. Regular Exercise
By taking 30 minutes out of every day to exercise, you can lower the triglyceride and cholesterol levels as well as help maintain a good body weight. Regular exercise promotes proper functioning of the lungs, heart, and circulation to prevent high blood pressure. Walking and cycling are two of the best physical activities for a healthy lifestyle. It is also beneficial to add Pilates, yoga, and strengthening exercises such as weightlifting.
3. Healthy Choices
Reduce your chances of stroke and heart diseases by not smoking, and if you do, get help to quit. Also avoiding excessive alcohol use can be beneficial to your health.
Dyslipidemia can lead to severe and possibly fatal conditions, since abnormal amounts of lipids in the blood are responsible for heart disease and related events, including cardiac arrest. While our body uses cholesterol for normal functioning and development, too much cholesterol can cause fat buildup in the bloodstream. Symptoms of correlating health conditions are seen with dyslipidemia disorder. This blood disorder can appear due to abnormal genetics or from lifestyle choices. Dyslipidemia can be treated and possibly prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
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