- Hyperlipidemia generally has no specific symptoms and may go undiagnosed for years in many cases. In severe cases, the lipid build up may result in fatty, pimple-like deposits on the skin or in pancreatitis.
- Diagnosis is quite simple. A cholesterol blood test that evaluates LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels can detect hyperlipidemia. In some cases, a doctor may order the test as part of a routine examination, especially if a patient has a family history of high cholesterol.
- There are two basic types of hyperlipidemia: hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia. In hypercholesterolemia, the blood cholesterol level becomes elevated. WIth hypertriglyceridemia, the level of triglycerides, the most common type of fat, becomes elevated.
- Several risk factors influence the development of hyperlipidemia or any form of elevated cholesterol. If you have a family history of the condition, you are more likely to develop it. People who smoke or drink alcohol excessively are also at increased risk. Inadequate exercise and poor dietary habits can also contribute to hyperlipidemia. Medical conditions that can increase a person's risk include diabetes and hypothyroidism.
- The first step in treating hyperlipidemia is to attempt to determine the cause. If a medical condition is contributing, that condition should be treated and controlled. Doctors typically recommend that patients lose weight, adopt a healthy diet and get more exercise in an attempt to bring levels into a healthier range. Several types of prescription medications can be used to treat hyperlipidemia as well. If cholesterol levels are high, drugs called statins are most commonly used. When high triglyceride levels are a concern, fibrates typically are prescribed.