Hyperlipidemia is a chronic condition caused by too much cholesterol in the bloodstream. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood that has a variety of functions within the body. There is good cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol, and there is bad cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol or too little HDL cholesterol can put individuals at increased risk for heart disease, vascular disease, pancreatitis, and/or stroke. When LDL cholesterol is too high, fatty deposits build up in the bloodstream and have the potential to cause blockages. Cholesterol levels can be controlled by medication, diet, and weight management.
Hyperlipidemia can be caused by genetic or lifestyle factors or a combination of both. Risk factors for hyperlipidemia include eating a high fat diet, diabetes, lack of exercise, smoking, obesity, or family history of hyperlipidemia.
There are no symptoms of hyperlipidemia. Bloodwork is the only way to diagnose the condition.
Hyperlipidemia can be treated through lifestyle changes or through medication, most commonly in the form of statins. Lifestyle changes include exercise, weight loss, quitting smoking, and managing conditions such as diabetes. Eating a healthy, low-fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish is especially important in lowering cholesterol.
The most effective way to prevent hyperlipidemia is by exercising regularly, eating a low-fat, low-salt diet (especially avoiding saturated fats and trans-fats), maintaining a normal weight and body mass index, avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, and managing stress.
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