Hyperlipidemia means there is an excess of fats or lipids in the bloodstream. It often refers to high cholesterol or high triglyceride levels. When you have excessive fats in the blood, this can increase your risk for atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries with plaque. Plaque consists of lipids and other components from your blood. As plaque grows inside of your arteries, the arteries begin to narrow and become harder. This can lead to reduced blood flow through the arteries and increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.
How can I tell if I have hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol?
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms from having high lipid levels in your bloodstream. In order to find out if you have high cholesterol or triglycerides, you must have a blood test which will reveal these levels. If you have high lipid levels, then your physician may prescribe medicine or discuss lifestyle and diet changes with you. The desired lipid levels from a blood test are as follows:
*Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl
*LDL (low density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol”) should be less than 130mg/dl
*HDL (high density lipoprotein or “good cholesterol”) should be greater than 40mg/dl for men and 50mg/dl for women
*Triglycerides should be less than 200 mg/dl.
Exercise and a healthy diet can help reduce fat levels in your blood. Sometimes medications are necessary. Some of the medications prescribed include statin drugs, fibrates, bile acid sequestrants, and niacin. Dietary recommendations for lowering cholesterol include reducing saturated fat to less than 7% of your daily calories, reducing total fat intake to 25-35% of daily calories, eating 20 to 30g of soluble fiber, and increasing intake of plant stanols or sterols which are found in nuts, corn, rice, and vegetable oil. Exercise can help lower lipid levels as well. It is recommended to get 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.