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What is Dyslipidemia?

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  • Written By: Eric Stolze
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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Dyslipidemia is a medical condition that occurs in people who have abnormal blood levels of lipids such as cholesterol or triglycerides. This condition may include high blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high blood levels of triglycerides or low blood levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Physicians typically diagnose this medical condition with blood tests that measure the amounts of lipids in the blood. People with abnormal blood-lipid levels may experience some symptoms, but in many cases, this condition develops without symptoms. Doctors generally treat dyslipidemia patients with medications and lifestyle change recommendations.

Physicians generally diagnose cases of dyslipidemia with the help of several blood-lipid tests. Patients typically have high blood levels of low-density lipoprotein if they have more than 100 milligrams of LDL per deciliter of blood. High triglyceride levels usually occur when blood levels of triglycerides are higher than 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Low levels of high-density lipoproteins can develop in dyslipidemia cases where people have less than 40 milligrams of HDL per deciliter of blood.

In some cases, people with high cholesterol may develop fatty deposits in their skin or tendons. Abnormally high blood-triglyceride levels may cause enlargement of the spleen or liver as well as pancreatitis. Atherosclerosis is a narrowing of the arteries that can occur in some dyslipidemia cases. The risk of stroke or heart attack may also increase in dyslipidemia patients who have blocked or narrowed arteries.

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People generally have an increased risk of developing dyslipidemia as they get older. This medical condition is usually more common in men than in women. Overweight and obese individuals as well as physically inactive people may also be more likely to develop high blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Diets that are high in cholesterol or fat can contribute to an increased risk of abnormal lipid levels in some individuals. People who drink excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages may also be at greater risk of developing high blood-lipid levels.

Patients with diabetes and kidney disease often develop high blood-lipid levels, especially if their medical conditions are not effectively treated. Cigarette smoking can also cause some people to develop unhealthy blood levels of cholesterol. People who use several kinds of drugs including estrogens, corticosteroids and oral contraceptives may be at an increased risk of dyslipidemia. Thiazide diuretic drugs and some antiviral medications can also make some patients more susceptible to this medical condition.

Physicians typically recommend lifestyle changes to treat high blood-lipid levels. Patients may receive dietary recommendations, including an increase in fruits and vegetables as well as a reduction in dietary trans-fatty acids and saturated fats. Individuals with high cholesterol can improve their condition with regular exercise in many cases. Overweight individuals who lose weight and smokers who quit smoking may improve their chances of effectively treating high blood-lipid levels. Some patients benefit from medications such as statins.

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