Lipemia: What is it? Associated Diseases, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Tips

It is the presence of lipids in the blood.

Generally, the amount of lipids (phospholipids, cholesterol, triglycerides) is approximately between 400 mg and 700 mg per 100 ml of blood.

The amount of lipids in the blood can be increased by the type of diet or by disorders or diseases (such as nephrosis , myxedema, diabetes, etc).

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that travels through your bloodstream in proteins called lipoproteins. When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your blood vessels and form plaque.

Over time, the plaque deposits get larger and begin to clog the arteries, which can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

What is hyperlipidemia?

Hyperlipidemia is a medical term for abnormally high levels of fats (lipids) in the blood. The two main types of lipids found in the blood are triglycerides and cholesterol.

Triglycerides are produced when the body stores extra calories that it does not need for energy. They also come directly from your diet in foods such as red meat and whole dairy. A diet high in refined sugar, fructose, and alcohol increases triglycerides.

Cholesterol occurs naturally in the liver because all the cells in your body use it. Similar to triglycerides, cholesterol is also found in fatty foods like eggs, red meat, and cheese.

Hyperlipidemia is more commonly known as high cholesterol. Although high cholesterol can be inherited, it is most often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Get a diagnosis

Hyperlipidemia has no symptoms, so the only way to detect it is to have your doctor run a blood test called a lipid panel or a lipid profile. This test determines your cholesterol levels.

Your doctor will take a sample of your blood and send it to a laboratory for testing, then he will reply with a complete report. Your report will show your levels of:

  • Total cholesterol.
  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
  • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
  • Triglycerides.

Your doctor may ask you to fast for 8 to 12 hours before drawing your blood. That means you will have to avoid eating or drinking anything other than water during that time.

However, recent studies suggest that fasting is not always necessary, so follow your doctor’s instructions regarding your particular health concerns.

In general, a total cholesterol level greater than 200 milligrams per deciliter is considered high. However, safe cholesterol levels may vary from person to person based on health history and current health concerns, and will be best determined by your doctor.

Your doctor will use your lipid panel to make a diagnosis of hyperlipidemia.

Are you at risk for hyperlipidemia?

There are two types of cholesterol, LDL and HDL. You’ve probably heard them call them “bad” and “good” cholesterol, respectively. LDL (“bad”) cholesterol builds up on the walls of the arteries, making them hard and narrow.

HDL (“good”) cholesterol clears excess “bad” cholesterol away from the arteries, back to the liver. Hyperlipidemia is caused by having too much LDL cholesterol in your blood and not enough HDL cholesterol to remove it.

Unhealthy lifestyle choices can raise “bad” cholesterol levels and lower “good” cholesterol levels. If you are overweight, eat a lot of fatty foods, smoke, or don’t get enough exercise, then you are at risk.

Lifestyle choices that put you at risk for high cholesterol include:

  • Eat foods with saturated and trans fats.
  • Eat animal protein, such as meat and dairy products.
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Not eating enough healthy fats.
  • Obesity.
  • Large waist circumference.
  • Smoker.
  • Excessive alcohol drinker.

Abnormal cholesterol levels are also found in some people with certain health conditions, including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • The pregnancy.
  • Underactive thyroid.
  • Hereditary conditions.

Also, cholesterol levels can be affected by certain medications such as:

  • Birth control pills.
  • Diuretics
  • Some medicines for depression .

Combined familial hyperlipidemia

There is a type of hyperlipidemia that you can inherit from your parents or grandparents. It’s called combined familial hyperlipidemia. Combined familial hyperlipidemia causes high cholesterol and high triglycerides.

People with this condition often develop high cholesterol or high triglycerides in their teens and are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s. This condition increases the risk of early coronary disease and heart attack.

Unlike people with typical hyperlipidemia, people with familial combined hyperlipidemia may experience symptoms of cardiovascular disease after a few years, such as:

  • Chest pain (at a young age)
  • Heart attack (at a young age).
  • Cramps in the calves when walking.
  • Sores on the toes that do not heal properly.
  • Stroke symptoms, including slurred speech, drooping on one side of the face, or limb weakness.

How to Treat and Manage Hyperlipidemia at Home

Lifestyle changes are the key to managing hyperlipidemia at home. Even if your hyperlipidemia is inherited (combined familial hyperlipidemia), lifestyle changes are still an essential part of treatment.

These changes alone may be enough to reduce the risk of complications like heart disease and stroke. If you are already taking medication, lifestyle changes can improve its cholesterol-lowering effects.

Eat a heart-healthy diet

Making changes to your diet can lower your “bad” cholesterol levels and increase your “good” cholesterol levels.

Here are some changes you can make:

  • Choose healthy fats – Avoid saturated fats found primarily in red meat, bacon, sausage, and whole dairy products. Choose lean proteins like chicken and fish when possible. Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products and use monounsaturated fats.
  • Cut down on trans fats – Trans fats are found in fried foods and processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, and other snacks. Check the ingredients on the product labels. Skip any product that says “partially hydrogenated oil.”
  • Eat more omega-3s: Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits for your heart. You can find them in some types of fish, including salmon, mackerel, and herring. They can also be found in some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flax seeds.
  • Increase your fiber intake: All fiber is healthy for your heart, but soluble fiber, found in oats, brain, fruits, beans, and vegetables, can lower cholesterol levels.
  • Learn heart-healthy recipes.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables: they are rich in fiber and vitamins and low in saturated fat.

Lose weight

If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help lower your total cholesterol levels. Even 5-10 pounds can make a difference. Losing weight starts with figuring out how many calories you are consuming and how many burns you are consuming. You need to cut 3,500 calories from your diet to lose one pound.

To lose weight, adopt a low calorie diet and increase your physical activity to burn more calories than you are eating. Help cut out sugary drinks and alcohol, and practice portion control.

Get active

Physical activity is important for overall health, weight loss, and cholesterol levels. When you are not getting enough physical activity, your HDL cholesterol levels go down. This means that there is not enough “good” cholesterol to remove the “bad” cholesterol from the arteries.

You only need 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise three to four times a week to lower your total cholesterol levels. The goal should be 150 minutes of total exercise each week.

Any of the following can help you add exercise to your daily routine:

  • Try riding your bike to work.
  • Take vigorous walks.
  • Swim in a pool.
  • Join a gym.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • If you use public transportation, get off a stop or two early.

Give up smoking

Smoking lowers “good” cholesterol levels and increases triglycerides. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with hyperlipidemia, smoking can increase your risk for heart disease. Talk to your doctor about quitting smoking or try the nicotine patch.

Nicotine patches are available at the pharmacy without a prescription. You can also read these tips from people who have quit smoking.

Medications for hyperlipidemia

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to treat your hyperlipidemia, your doctor may prescribe medication.

Common medications to lower cholesterol and triglycerides include:

  • Estatinas: atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatina (Lescol XL), lovastatina (Altoprev), pitavastatina (Livalo), pravastatina (Pravachol), rosuvastatina (Crestor), simvastatina (Zocor).
  • Bile acid binding resins : cholestyramine (Prevalite), colesevelam (WelChol), colestipol (Colestid).
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: such  as ezetimibe (Zetia).
  • Injectable medications: alirocumab (Praluent) or evolocumab (Repatha).
  • Fibratos: fenofibrato (Fenoglide, Tricor, Triglide) o gemfibrozil (Lopid).
  • Niacin: like Niacor.
  • Omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
  • Other supplements that lower cholesterol.

Panorama

People with untreated hyperlipidemia are more likely to develop coronary artery disease than the general population. Heart disease is a condition in which plaque builds up within the coronary (heart) arteries.

Hardening of the arteries, called atherosclerosis, occurs when plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries. Over time, plaque buildup shrinks your arteries and can completely block them, preventing normal blood flow. This can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or other problems.

How to prevent high cholesterol

You can make lifestyle changes to prevent high cholesterol or reduce the risk of developing hyperlipidemia:

  • Exercise several days a week.
  • Eat a diet low in saturated and trans fat.
  • Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, and fish regularly in your diet. The Mediterranean diet is an excellent heart-healthy eating plan.
  • Stop eating red meat and processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, and cold cuts.
  • Drink skim or low-fat milk.
  • Maintain a good weight.
  • Eat lots of healthy fats, like avocado, almonds, and olive oil.

What is hypolipidemia?

The term “hypo” means “low” and “lipidemia” means “blood lipid levels,” which include cholesterol. Hence, hypolipidemia would mean low cholesterol levels in the body. Hypolipemia can also be a sign of malnutrition or when there is too much intake of drugs with high doses of cholesterol.

Hypolipemia is also known as hypolipoproteinemia. Having low levels of cholesterol in the body is often not a big concern for most people.

However, in certain cases, it can lead to serious medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. Studies have been conducted suggesting that abnormally low cholesterol levels adversely affect an individual’s health.

Causes

Below are some of the causes that can lead to low cholesterol levels in the body:

  • Hyperthyroidism : This has been identified as one of the main causes of low cholesterol levels in the body. Thyroid hormone, which has been produced in excess, circulates throughout the body and causes many problems, including abnormally low cholesterol levels, poor concentration, etc.
  • Liver problems : One of the main causes of low cholesterol levels is liver disease. This medical condition is an acute or broad class of chronic medical conditions that have a negative impact on the health of the liver, which is the main organ for the production of cholesterol in the body.
  • Malnutrition : A simple case of low cholesterol levels in the body can be due to malnutrition. When a person is unable to consume a proper and nutritious diet, it can cause a variety of symptoms and conditions. The body needs enough food to make cholesterol.
  • Malabsorption Syndrome : Even when a person consumes a sufficient amount of nutrients, their body would not get the proper and necessary nutrients from food due to malabsorption in the intestines. Due to this malabsorption, very low levels of cholesterol are present.

Diet

Include organic fats and oils in your daily diet, such as nuts, seeds, cold-pressed fats, meat fats, organic butter, and eggs.

However, avoid chemically processed fats and oils as they negatively affect your liver and brain. They include canola and vegetable oil, margarine, mayonnaise, peanut butter, and salad dressings.

As much as possible, eat whole foods or organically grown foods to avoid consuming harmful chemicals.

When it comes to fish, avoid farm-raised fish as they are generally fed an unnatural diet. Choose sardines or Alaskan salmon instead. You can also choose other fish that are safe to eat, such as tuna, halibut, or salmon.

Treatment

Low cholesterol levels are most likely caused by certain changes in the individual’s diet and physical condition. Therefore, to properly treat the condition, modifying the diet is not enough.

Certain blood tests and a mental health evaluation from a doctor can help evaluate problems with low cholesterol levels.

If low cholesterol levels affect an individual’s mental health, then the doctor may prescribe certain antidepressants. Statin drugs have also been seen to cause a significant drop in cholesterol levels.

In such cases, the doctor may make certain adjustments in drug dosing to restore normal cholesterol levels.

  • Staying physically active –  Physical activity is often associated with elevated levels of good cholesterol. It is not necessary to carry out intense forms of exercise as moderate forms of exercise such as jogging or brisk walking can already help people to get active.
  • If you are one of those people who constantly sit around at work – make  sure you stand up and walk around the office for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. It is recommended to exercise at least five times a week.
  • Consume fish oil : Fish and fish oil are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which help balance cholesterol levels in the body.
  • Take Fish Oil Supplements – Studies suggest that taking fish oil supplements three times a week is ideal. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor first before taking any type of supplements.
  • Consume green tea : Green tea is very good for the general health of the body. It contains compounds, which are beneficial when it comes to maintaining cholesterol levels in the body. Green tea extract capsules are also known to be effective in lowering bad cholesterol in the body.

Here are several foods that can easily cause hypolipidemia:

  • Oats – Oats are known to contain high amounts of linoleic acid, which is said to account for a total of 35 percent of unsaturated fatty acids. It is also enriched with vitamin E and saponins. Oats also play an important role in lowering plasma cholesterol levels in the body.
  • Onion : The lipid-lowering efficacy of onions along with diallyl disulfide and small amounts of sulfur amino acids is said to be very relevant when it comes to lowering blood pressure and preventing atherosclerosis. It also has a protective effect on the arteries. It also contains prostaglandin A, which helps widen blood vessels and improves blood pressure.
  • Almonds : Almonds are said to contain cholesterol, saturated fat, and seven percent fatty acids. Patients suffering from high blood pressure are recommended to replace foods that are rich in saturated fatty acids.
  • Chili – Chili peppers are known to contain vitamin C, which helps improve the body’s microcirculation, reduces the brittleness of capillaries, and balances cholesterol levels in the body.

Panorama

Having low levels of cholesterol in the body is often linked to a number of serious health problems. It is a significant risk factor for bleeding within brain tissues called primary intracerebral hemorrhage in the older population.

Pregnant women with low cholesterol levels are also at risk for low-birth-weight babies or premature deliveries.

Furthermore, being suicidal along with violent behavior is also attributed to low cholesterol levels. Therefore, symptoms of mental instability, anxiety, and depression could be due to low cholesterol levels.

When your cholesterol levels are low, see and talk to your doctor if there are certain things that should concern you.