A lipid disorder means that you have high levels of either low-density
lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or elevated levels of fats called triglycerides.
If you have high LDL cholesterol or high triglycerides, you probably
have an increased risk for developing heart disease.
The two major forms of cholesterol found in your body are high-density
lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
HDL, or “good cholesterol”, has a protective effect on your
heart. HDL transports harmful cholesterol out of your arteries. Doctors usually
recommend that you have a high level of HDL cholesterol.
LDL, or “bad cholesterol”, is made by your body and also
absorbed from cholesterol-rich foods such as red meat and dairy. LDL can
combine with other fats and substances, creating blockages in your arteries.
This can reduce your blood flow and cause serious health problems.
A triglyceride is a type of fat you get from the food
you eat. Your body also produces it when it converts excess calories to fat for
storage. Some triglycerides are necessary for the proper cell functions, but
too much is unhealthy. People with high cholesterol often have a raised level
What Causes High Blood Cholesterol and High Triglycerides?
Medical conditions or bad dietary habits can cause high blood
cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Foods that contain saturated
fat can cause an increase in cholesterol. Saturated fat is mostly found
in animal-based food products such as:
Some plant-based foods, such as palm oil and coconut oil, also
contain saturated fats.
Transfats, or trans-fatty acids, have undergone a hydrogenation
process. Some transfats are found in animal products. These fats are often
found in peanut butter, margarine, and potato chips.
Foods high in these two fats lower HDL levels and increase LDL
levels. This decreases your defenses against heart disease and stroke,
increasing your risk of developing these conditions.
High levels of cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes cause
high triglycerides. High blood cholesterol levels can result from:
- metabolic syndrome
- medication side effects
- Cushing’s syndrome
- polycystic ovary
- kidney diseases
What Else Causes High Cholesterol?
A lack of exercise can increase your LDL. Exercise is
shown to boost your healthy HDL cholesterol. Smoking can also
increase your bad cholesterol by causing plaque to build up in your arteries.
Your family history can also tell you whether you’re at risk for high blood
How Can I Tell if My Cholesterol or Triglycerides Are High?
High cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms. Symptoms only appear
after significant damage has been done due to increased cholesterol.
How Is a Lipid Disorder Diagnosed?
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels can be detected by
a blood test called a lipid profile, or lipid panel. A lipid profile
measures your total cholesterol (both LDL and HDL cholesterol) and
triglycerides. Your doctor will likely ask you to avoid eating and drinking
liquids other than water for at least 10 to 12 hours before this test.
The lipid profile measures cholesterol in milligrams of
cholesterol per deciliter (mg/dL).
Your total cholesterol level should be no higher than 200 mg/dL.
What Are the Treatment Options for a Lipid Disorder?
A combination of exercise and medications can correct high cholesterol
A group of drugs called “statins” are commonly used to
treat high cholesterol. This type of medication blocks a substance created in
your liver that produces cholesterol. Your liver then removes cholesterol from
your blood. Statins can also absorb cholesterol trapped in your arteries.
Commonly prescribed statins include:
Medications called “cholesterol absorption inhibitors” lower
your cholesterol by limiting your body’s absorption of dietary cholesterol. They
are sometimes combined with statins.
Medications called “bile-acid-binding resins” can also
lower high blood cholesterol. These medications trap bile resins (which contain
cholesterol) and prevent them from being reabsorbed in your small intestine.
Fibrates are medications that lower high triglyceride
levels in your blood.
Omega-3 fatty acids available over the counter are commonly used
to lower triglycerides and LDL. Omega-3 fatty acids are
polyunsaturated fats that increase your heart’s health. These fats are naturally
found in fatty fish, such as salmon. Plant oils such as canola and olive oil
also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
the level of HDL production. Niacin is available over the counter or in
prescription strength. According to the Mayo
Clinic, niacin doesn’t give more benefit than statins by themselves.
How Can I Prevent High Cholesterol and Triglycerides?
Heart Association (AHA) recommends that no more than 6 percent of your
daily calories come from saturated fat. The AHA also recommends limiting transfat
to no more than 1 percent.
Eating plenty of whole grains, fruit, and vegetables can also decrease high
Other ways you can maintain a healthy cholesterol level include:
- eating skinless poultry with no visible fat
- eating lean meats, in moderate portions
- eating low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- consuming polyunsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fat instead of
saturated fats and transfats
- exercising for at least 30 minutes per day, four days per week
- avoiding fast food, junk food, and processed meats
- eating grilled and roasted foods instead of fried foods
Being overweight, smoking, and even having a family history
of lipid disorders are all risk factors for lipid disorders. Avoiding certain
foods, refraining from drug use, and being screened for a lipid disorder can
prevent or lessen the effects of this disorder.
High cholesterol and high triglycerides affect the heart and can
put you at increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Making
healthy lifestyle choices and knowing your genetics can also help you avoid a