How Dyslipidemia Affects Heart Health

Dyslipidemia can often be effectively managed with medications and a healthy lifestyle, but if left untreated can have negative effects on your heart health.

Here’s more about the link between dyslipidemia and heart health, and how to contact Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates (HCA) when you’re ready for an evaluation and treatment.

What Is Dyslipidemia?

Dyslipidemia refers to an unhealthy balance of lipid (fat) levels in your blood. There are three types of lipids in your blood: triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol since it can build up in your arteries to form plaque deposits. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol since it helps remove LDL from your blood.

People with dyslipidemia usually have high levels of LDL or triglycerides or low levels of HDL. These lipid imbalances can put you at risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

How Does Dyslipidemia Affect Your Heart Health?

High levels of LDL can cause plaque to build up in your arteries, which can clog the arteries and decrease blood flow to your heart to increase the risk of a heart attack. Low levels of HDL can contribute to a heart attack by inhibiting your body’s ability to remove LDL from the blood.

Triglycerides can build up in your blood if you consume a higher number of calories than what you burn. High triglyceride levels can cause your arteries to thicken and harden, which also leads to problems with blood flow to the heart that can trigger heart disease and heart attack.

What Are the Causes?

Dyslipidemia is primarily caused by certain lifestyle behaviors that affect your lipid levels. Smoking, heavy alcohol use, obesity, low physical activity, and eating lots of foods high in saturated fat and trans fat can often cause dyslipidemia.

Some cases may be caused by genetics, especially if one or both of your parents had this condition. Medical conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism, and chronic kidney disease may also cause dyslipidemia.

What are the Symptoms?

Most people with dyslipidemia are unaware they have it unless their condition is severe and contributing to other health problems. Dyslipidemia is usually found and diagnosed during a routine blood test.

Symptoms are similar to those of heart disease and heart attack. Chest pain, shortness of breath, indigestion, cold sweats, and nausea are some of the many symptoms you may experience if you have dyslipidemia.

Who Is at Risk for Dyslipidemia?

People at the highest risk for dyslipidemia are those who smoke, drink heavily, remain sedentary, and practice poor nutrition. Specifically, nutrition-related risk factors for dyslipidemia include low intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Other risk factors include being older and being a woman who has gone through menopause.

People who have a family history of high LDL levels and mutations in the cholesterol pathway are also at risk, though these cases are rare and less common.

How Is Dyslipidemia Diagnosed?

Dyslipidemia can be diagnosed with a routine blood test from your healthcare provider. A blood test can measure your levels of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides to determine whether they are low, high, or in a healthy range. If your dyslipidemia diagnosis comes back positive, your healthcare provider can discuss ways you can correct your imbalances and get your condition under control.

What Are Treatments for Dyslipidemia?

Dyslipidemia can often be improved and treated by changing certain lifestyle behaviors. This may involve quitting smoking, reducing your alcohol intake, exercising regularly, losing excess weight, and working with your healthcare provider to improve your nutrition.

Your healthcare provider may also prescribe medications such as statins that can help reduce your LDL levels. Consult with your healthcare provider about the best dyslipidemia treatment for you based on your symptoms and medical history.

Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates (HCA) is committed to providing the highest quality of care in a patient-centered environment. Our offices are conveniently located in Flemington, Clinton, and Bridgewater. Contact us today at (908) 788-1710 to request an appointment with one of our board certified cardiologists.

Posted in: Cardiovascular Diseases

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