Hyperlipidemia develops for years without causing symptoms, yet it’s a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Beata I. Styka, MD, in Palos Heights, Illinois, has extensive experience diagnosing and treating hyperlipidemia, helping you prevent serious complications such as atherosclerosis, a heart attack, or stroke. To learn your risk for hyperlipidemia and if you should be screened, call the office or schedule an appointment online.
Hyperlipidemia is often considered to be synonymous with high cholesterol. But hyperlipidemia is a more general condition that refers to high levels of fats (lipids) circulating in your blood. The two primary fats responsible for health problems are triglycerides and cholesterol.
When you consume more calories than you need, your body turns the excess calories into triglycerides. Triglycerides are typically stored as fat, but when blood levels get too high, triglycerides may cause pancreatitis and contribute to cardiovascular disease.
The way cholesterol is processed during digestion determines if it’s good or bad cholesterol. Before cholesterol enters your bloodstream, your body turns it into a lipoprotein, which is a tiny package of cholesterol wrapped in proteins.
The proportion of cholesterol to protein creates different types of lipoproteins. High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are called good cholesterol because they take cholesterol out of your bloodstream.
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) become bad cholesterol because they stay in your bloodstream. While they serve the important job of delivering cholesterol to cells that need it to produce hormones or fill other roles, the cholesterol they carry can end up stuck on blood vessel walls. Once cholesterol attaches to the wall, it builds up and causes atherosclerosis.
Hyperlipidemia doesn’t cause symptoms. You can have high cholesterol and/or triglycerides for years and never know it, until they cause serious damage in your body.
When high triglycerides cause pancreatitis, you’ll develop symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and indigestion. The first sign of high cholesterol appears after atherosclerotic plaque becomes large enough to block blood flow.
When that happens, you may experience chest pain or leg pain when walking. In the worst case, the first symptom of high cholesterol is a heart attack or stroke.
Dr. Styka tests your blood levels of triglycerides and the different types of cholesterol using HealthLab. Then she takes a two-pronged approach to treating hyperlipidemia. She recommends lifestyle changes proven to lower triglycerides and cholesterol, such as following a balanced diet, getting more exercise, and losing weight if needed.
If lifestyle changes fail to improve your hyperlipidemia, or if your blood levels of cholesterol or triglycerides are already dangerously high, she prescribes one of several types of medication to reduce fats in your blood.
The only way to know if you have hyperlipidemia is with a blood test. To schedule a screening or to get ongoing management of hyperlipidemia, call Beata I. Styka, MD, or use the online booking feature.