Hyperlipidemia and dyslipidemia are elevated lipid levels in the blood. Lipids are transported by lipoproteins to the tissues where they’re stored. They’re an energy reserve, and the body uses them when it needs to meet the metabolic needs of its tissues.
Cholesterol is a lipid (or fat) that plays an important role in the proper functioning of the body. In addition, it forms part of the plasma membrane of the cells. Triglycerides are also lipids and are an important energy reserve in the body. The blood transports them together with lipoproteins that the liver and intestine produce.
Causes of increased lipid levels in the blood
Increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood that are above those considered adequate or normal are a significant risk factor for atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a very important risk factor associated with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular accidents.
1. Avoidable causes
Among the causes that are avoidable and that can contribute to controlling cholesterol and triglyceride levels are the following:
- Unbalanced diet: If your diet is rich in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, and cholesterol, the risk is higher.
- Excess weight and obesity: With excess weight, bad cholesterol and triglycerides tend to increase, while good cholesterol values decrease.
- Tobacco and alcohol consumption: Tobacco consumption affects blood circulation.
2. Non-preventable causes
Non-preventable causes, which are those we can’t do anything about, include factors such as genetics, age, and gender. It’s also important to note that hypercholesterolemia, in some cases, is related to other diseases, which indirectly cause an elevation of cholesterol levels.
Genetic hypercholesterolemia is an inherited disease that’s detected at birth, and people who have it have elevated blood cholesterol levels.
Signs and symptoms of hyperlipidemia
Elevated lipid levels don’t manifest themselves with symptoms. Rather, hyperlipidemia goes unnoticed until it’s detected by a blood test or because a cardiovascular accident happens. However, the symptoms most frequently associated with these illnesses are:
- Xanthomas: Fatty deposits on the skin of the hands, elbows, or other parts of the body, even around the cornea of the eye.
- Xanthelasmas: Fatty deposits on the eyelids.
- Cramps: Especially in the calves, when walking.
- Sores on the toes that don’t heal.
Since there’s an absence of symptoms, it’s crucial to detect hyperlipidemia as early as possible in order to prevent the effects it may cause. It’s advisable to perform preventive tests, especially in people who have a family history or risk factors.
Some of the factors that experts consider to be risk factors are:
- Age: Men over 45 years old, and women over 55 years old or with premature menopause
- Family history of cardiovascular accidents
- High blood pressure
- HDL cholesterol < 35 mg/dL
- Diabetes mellitus
Dietary supplements for hyperlipidemia
The main drugs doctors prescribe to control cholesterol levels are statins, exchange resins, fibrates, and omega-3 acids. The professional will choose the right drug according to the parameter that requires treatment, which will be the one that poses the greatest risk to health.
Treatment can also involve food supplements and phytotherapy, which refers to herbal preparations that can be useful. Among the plant substances that are useful in the treatment of dyslipidemia we find:
- Plant species with fiber: Such as plantago ovata, forssk, konjac, and koch.
- Pure food supplements: Such as long-chain omega-3 acids, EPA, and DHA from fish or krill oil.
- Coenzyme Q10 and red yeast rice: Monacolin K contained in red yeast rice.
- Species that improve lipid profile: Such as garcinia cambogia or garcinia gummi-gutta, sunflower lecithin and isoflavones.
Hyperlipidemias and changing habits
Most dyslipidemias are due to avoidable factors. Most of them are due to an unbalanced diet, sedentary lifestyle, and lifestyle factors. Therefore, the first thing to do is to change your lifestyle.