hyperlipidemia is an inherited disorder that causes high cholesterol and high
levels of triglycerides in the blood. It’s fairly common, affecting 1-2 percent
of the population, according to a study published in Human Molecular Genetics.
While researchers know the disorder is
passed down genetically, they haven’t yet identified the exact genes for it.
What Are the Symptoms of
Familial Combined Hyperlipidemia?
Some people have no physical symptoms
from the disease. Others may get chest pain. The main symptom of familial
combined hyperlipidemia is an increase in your cholesterol and triglyceride
levels. This makes you more at risk for heart disease and early heart attacks.
Many people with this condition also have higher rates of glucose intolerance
Are There Risk Factors for
Although familial combined
hyperlipidemia is inherited, there are factors that can make it worse. These
A family history of high cholesterol
and early heart disease are risk factors for developing the disorder.
How Is Familial Combined
Your doctor will perform a physical
exam and ask about your family history. Then, they'll order blood tests. The
first blood tests for this disorder are generally ordered during adolescence.
That's when lab tests first show increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels
in the blood.
Blood tests for the following will
help your doctor make the diagnosis:
Preparing for Your Blood Test
Before the blood test, you’ll have to
fast for nine to 12 hours. You may be allowed to drink plain water, but you
can't eat or drink anything else. Let your doctor know about any medications or
supplements you take. Be sure to ask whether you should continue taking these
prior to your blood test.
Understanding Your Results
Familial combined hyperlipidemia will
cause the LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and apolipoprotein B100 to increase,
whereas levels of HDL cholesterol will be lower than average.
How Is the Condition
A combination of lifestyle changes and
medication is typically used to help treat familial combined hyperlipidemia.
The goal of treatment is not to cure the disorder, but to reduce the risk of heart
Dietary and lifestyle changes are a
common first-line treatment. Here are some changes to consider:
- Adjust your total fat intake to no more than 30
percent of your total daily calories.
- Lower your intake of saturated fat.
- Eat less meat.
- Substitute low-fat dairy products for full-fat
- Eat more fiber which helps you feel fuller so
that you eat less total calories.
- Avoid egg yolks and organ meats which are high
If you need help changing your diet, your
doctor may suggest that you see a nutritionist. Regular exercise and weight
loss are other ways you can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Medication is prescribed when
lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol levels. Every drug has a
different effect on cholesterol. Some of the following medications may be
prescribed, depending on your individual situation:
- nicotinic acid
- bile acid-sequestering resins
Be sure to let your doctor know if you
take any other medications or supplements, or if you have allergies to any
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If you have high triglycerides, your
doctor may suggest taking fish oil supplements. These have been shown to help
lower triglycerides and provide you with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Don’t
take these supplements without first asking your doctor.
What Is the Long-Term
Outlook for the Condition?
Your long-term outlook depends on when
the condition is diagnosed, and how it’s treated.
Following your treatment plan,
especially the diet and lifestyle changes, is very important. If you don't
follow the diet and exercise guidelines, you raise your risk of having a heart
attack or stroke. Unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, can also interfere with
Some people's lipid levels might be so
high that medical therapy is not able to substantially reduce the risk of heart
In general, an early diagnosis and
following your doctor’s recommendations for treatment provide your best options