Hyperlipidemia is treatable, but it’s often a life-long condition. You’ll need to watch what you eat and also exercise regularly. You might need to take a prescription medication, too. The term covers several disorders that result in extra fats, also known as lipids, in your blood. You can control some of its causes; but not all of them. The goal is to lower the harmful cholesterol levels. Doing so reduces your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other problems.
Cholesterol, a waxy substance, is a type of fat your body makes. It can also come from what you eat. Foods that have cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fats can raise your blood cholesterol level.
If you don’t exercise much, that can lead to putting on extra pounds, which can raise your cholesterol. As you get older, your cholesterol levels often creep up, too.
Hyperlipidemia can run in families. People who inherit the condition can get very high cholesterol. That means they have a much greater chance of having a heart attack, even when they’re young.
Symptoms and dangers
Most people with hyperlipidemia can’t tell that they have it at first. It’s not something you can feel, but you’ll notice the effects of it someday.
Cholesterol, along with triglycerides and other fats, can build up inside your arteries. This makes the blood vessels narrower and makes it more difficult for blood to get through and your blood pressure could go up.
The buildup can also cause a blood clot to form. If a blood clot breaks off and travels to your heart, it causes a heart attack. If it goes to your brain, it can cause a stroke.
Lifestyle changes that can lower your cholesterol include a healthy diet, weight loss, and exercise. You should:
- Choose foods low in trans fats.
- Eat more fiber-rich foods, such as oatmeal, apples, bananas, pears, prunes, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and lima beans.
- Have fish twice a week.
- Limit your alcohol, too. That means no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or two if you’re a man.
- Step up your exercise habits. Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, like a brisk walk, most days of the week. You don’t have to do it all at once. Even 10 to 15 minutes at a time can make a difference.