Skip to Content



What is hyperlipidemia?

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.

What increases my risk for hyperlipidemia?

  • Family history of high lipid levels
  • Diet high in saturated fats, cholesterol, or calories
  • High alcohol intake or smoking
  • Lack of regular physical activity
  • Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, obesity, or type 2 diabetes
  • Certain medicines, such as blood pressure medicines, hormones, and steroids

How is hyperlipidemia managed and treated?

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 30 minutes or more of aerobic exercise 4 to 6 days each week. You can split your exercise into four 10-minute workouts instead of 30 minutes at one time. Examples of aerobic 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 5 or more servings of 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. Fiber can help lower your cholesterol levels. 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.

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
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
  • 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

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2020 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Hyperlipidemia

Associated drugs

Mayo Clinic Reference