Conditions

DYSLIPIDAEMIA

Overview

Dyslipidaemia refers to having unhealthy levels of blood lipid, which may be too low or high. Blood lipids are fatty substances such as cholesterol and triglycerides.  The most common forms of dyslipidaemia include:

  • High levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol.
  • Low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as good cholesterol.
  • High levels of triglycerides.
  • High levels of low-density lipoproteins and triglyceride, also known as high cholesterol.

Lipids or fats are building blocks that provide cells with energy. They include:

  • LDL cholesterol – This is bad cholesterol because it may lead to plaque forming in the blood vessels.
  • HDL cholesterol – This is good cholesterol due to its ability to remove LDL from the blood.
  • Triglycerides – This develops when calories are not burnt right away and are stored in fat cells.

Dyslipidaemia doesn’t cause any symptoms unless it progresses to a severe stage. Severe or untreated dyslipidaemia may lead to other conditions such as coronary artery disease (CAD) and peripheral artery disease (PAD). It may cause serious health complications, such as heart attacks and strokes. Common dyslipidaemia symptoms include leg pain, especially when walking or standing, chest pain, shortness of breath, indigestion, heartburn, heart palpitations and fainting. 

How is dyslipidaemia diagnosed?

Dyslipidaemia may be diagnosed during a routine blood test or a test for another condition. A blood test will then be done to reveal whether the LDL, HDL and triglycerides are high, low or are in a healthy range. These levels may change from year to year, therefore getting an annual blood work is recommended. If you take dyslipidaemia medication, Dr du Plooy may recommend that you do frequent blood tests.

How is dyslipidaemia treated?

Dr du Plooy will focus on lowering your triglycerides and LDL levels; however, dyslipidaemia treatment depends on the underlying cause and how severe the condition is. Lipid-modifying medications may be prescribed for people who are diagnosed with very high total cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol is normally treated with statins, which help reduce LDL levels by interfering with the production of cholesterol in the liver. If statins fail to lower the levels of LDL and triglyceride, Dr du Plooy may recommend ezetimibe, niacin, fibrates, bile acid sequestrants, evolocumab and lomitapide. Some lifestyle changes such as maintaining healthy body weight, avoiding alcohol, exercising regularly and a healthy diet.

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