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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Hyperlipidemia is a high level of lipids (fats) in your blood. These lipids include cholesterol or triglycerides. Lipids are made by your body. They also come from the foods you eat. Your body needs lipids to work properly, but high levels increase your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to reduce your cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to return for more tests. Your healthcare provider may refer you to a dietitian. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Your healthcare provider may first recommend that you make lifestyle changes to help decrease your lipid levels. You may also need to take medicine to lower your lipid levels. Some of the lifestyle changes you may need to make include the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight. Weight loss can decrease your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Exercise as directed. Exercise lowers your cholesterol levels and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Get 40 minutes or more of moderate exercise 3 to 4 days each week. You can split your exercise into four 10-minute workouts instead of 40 minutes at one time. Examples of moderate exercises include walking briskly, swimming, or riding a bike. Work with your healthcare provider to plan the best exercise program for you.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase your risk for a heart attack and stroke. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Eat heart-healthy foods. Talk to your dietitian about a heart-healthy diet. The following will help you manage hyperlipidemia:
- Decrease the total amount of fat you eat. Choose lean meats, fat-free or 1% fat milk, and low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese. Limit or do not eat red meat. Red meats are high in fat and cholesterol.
- Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats. Unhealthy fats include saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Choose soft margarines that are low in saturated fat and have little or no trans fat. Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats. These are found in olive oil, canola oil, avocado, and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are also healthy. These are found in fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and soybeans.
- Eat fruits and vegetables every day. They are low in calories and fat and a good source of essential vitamins. Include dark green, red, and orange vegetables. Examples include spinach, kale, broccoli, and carrots.
- Eat foods high in fiber. Choose whole grain, high-fiber foods. Good choices include whole-wheat breads or cereals, beans, peas, fruits, and vegetables.
- Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Alcohol can increase your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.