Are You Concerned About Your Cholesterol?
Cholesterol levels are a common concern that patients raise with doctors. Cholesterol is one of several types of lipids in the blood. This waxy substance helps with hormone production, vitamins, and much more. As cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream, elevated levels could lead to hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia. Understanding the similarities, risks, and treatment options are vital for a long, healthy life.
LDL, HDL, and triglycerides
Cholesterol circulates in the blood via 2 types of lipoproteins. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are considered bad cholesterol. LDL is responsible for fat deposits and lifestyle diseases. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are considered good cholesterol that lowers LDL. Triglycerides are another essential fat that stores energy and circulates in the bloodstream. High triglycerides, high LDL, and low HDL can lead to severe health consequences like heart attacks and strokes.
What is hyperlipidemia?
Hyperlipidemia is defined as elevated levels of lipids. Patients with hyperlipidemia have high LDL and triglycerides circulating in the blood, posing a threat to health. Hyperlipidemia can show no symptoms and is sometimes only detected through lipid panels. Doctors estimate that almost 40% of Americans have some degree of hyperlipidemia.
What about hypercholesterolemia?
Hypercholesterolemia falls under the umbrella of hyperlipidemia but focuses on poor cholesterol levels. Someone with hypercholesterolemia can have high LDL or abnormally low HDL. High total cholesterol levels can also signal hypercholesterolemia. Patients with this condition have normal triglyceride levels. Hypercholesterolemia can lay dormant until someone experiences a heart attack, stroke, or blood flow condition.
Similarities and differences
Doctors agree that both conditions are dangerous to overall health and well-being. Unhealthy lifestyles cause both hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia. Diets high in trans fats, obesity, smoking, alcohol use, and obesity are common causes. Diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease also lead to both conditions. A key difference is that hyperlipidemia can be genetic. Both also require the same treatment to get everything under control.
Taking action through treatment
Doctors will encourage immediate lifestyle changes to get cholesterol under control. A healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, certain nuts, and whole grains reduces cholesterol levels over time. These diets contain omega-3s and help patients avoid fatty foods that impact cholesterol levels. Physical activity and exercise keep weight in check and improves cardiovascular health. Other lifestyle habits can help, including removing alcohol, quitting smoking, and reducing stress. Both conditions may need medication, like statins, to manage cholesterol levels.
Take both conditions seriously
Hyperlipidemia is a potentially dangerous condition if left untreated. Hypercholesterolemia falls under this bracket but does not include triglycerides. Both conditions can lead to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and other harmful diseases. Therefore, making healthy lifestyle changes is crucial, especially with age. These healthy habits and regular cholesterol checks can reduce the chance of a life-threatening situation.