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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, and they 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
  • 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 to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight. Weight loss can decrease your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Decrease the amount of calories you eat by 500 calories a day to help you lose weight. Try to eat smaller portions for each meal and eat fewer high-calorie foods.
  • Exercise regularly to lower your cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy weight. Get 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise 4 to 6 days each week. Include muscle strengthening activities 2 days each week, such as push-ups, sit-ups, and lifting weights. To lose weight, get at least 60 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Work with your healthcare provider to plan the best exercise program for you.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk for a heart attack and stroke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
  • 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.
    • 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. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats, which are found in olive oil, canola oil, avocado, and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are also healthy, and they are found in fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and soybeans.
    • Include fish in your diet. Eat 2 servings of fish each week. One serving is about 4 ounces. Fish is a good source of healthy omega 3 fats. Choose fish with low levels of mercury, such as salmon and canned light tuna. Children and pregnant women should not eat fish that have high levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
    • Eat fruits and vegetables every day. They are low in calories and fat and a good sources of essential vitamins. Include dark green, red, and orange vegetables.
    • Eat foods high in fiber. Choose whole grain, high-fiber foods. Good choices include whole-wheat breads or cereals, beans, peas, fruits, and vegetables.
    • Limit alcohol. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

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

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • 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

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 caregivers 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.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. 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 Truven Health Analytics.

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.