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A nurse prepares blood samples to check for lipid disorders

What are the different kinds of Lipids?

Triglycerides: These are located within fat cells where they can be converted into energy for use in metabolic processes.

Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a component of bile and cell membranes that helps the body absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as make different types of hormones and vitamin D. It comes in two forms: LDL and HDL. While each is important, an imbalance of too much LDL and too little HDL can lead to atherosclerosis – a buildup of plaque in the arteries.

Types of Lipid Disorders

When a problem occurs with cholesterol or triglycerides (such as too much LDL), it is known as a lipid disorder. There are several different types of these disorders, and they are categorized based on their characteristics. Among the more common forms of lipid disorders are:

  • Primary Elevated Cholesterol – LDL cholesterol levels are higher than they should be
  • Primary Elevated Triglycerides – Triglyceride levels are higher than they should be
  • Primary low-HDL Syndromes – HDL cholesterol levels are lower than they should be
  • Metabolic Syndrome – Also known as Syndrome X, dyslipidemia syndrome, or insulin resistance, this syndrome occurs when blood contains elevated levels of triglycerides and insulin levels along with low levels of HDL cholesterol.
  • Familial Hypercholesterolemia – Inherited disorder resulting in higher LDL and total cholesterol
  • Familial Hypertriglyceridemia – Inherited high triglycerides

Causes and Risk Factors of Lipid Disorders

Lipid disorders can develop as the result of genetics, lifestyle factors, or a combination of both. Lifestyle factors which commonly contribute include being largely sedentary in day-to-day life and eating foods high in saturated or trans fats and cholesterol.

Furthermore, genetics and poor lifestyle factors can also contribute to other health conditions known to negatively impact lipids. When a lipid disorder is the result of a separate medical problem, it is known as a “secondary lipid disorder.” These conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Kidney failure
  • Obstructive liver disease
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)

Treatment of Lipid Disorders

Untreated lipid disorders are dangerous for the heart, as they can lead to narrowing of the arteries through the gradual buildup of plaque (atherosclerosis) and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. While supplements like omega-3 fatty acids and positive lifestyle changes may be enough to help control or reverse lipid disorders in some, many will require medication to treat their disease. Drugs commonly prescribed include:

  • Statins – Statins are a group of drugs that help control cholesterol by helping block its creation in the liver. They also aid by absorbing cholesterol that has become trapped in the arteries. Frequently used statin drugs include Lipitor, Lescol, Crestor, and Zocor.
  • Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors – These drugs help control the balance of cholesterol in your body by inhibiting the absorption of dietary cholesterol.
  • Bile Acid Sequestrants – Bile resins are substances that contain cholesterol and that can be reabsorbed in the small intestine. Bile acid sequestrants prevent this reabsorption.
  • Fibrates – These drugs can help bring down elevated triglyceride levels.

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CIS physicians frequently treat lipid disorders and understand precisely how these conditions can negatively impact cardiovascular health. To begin treatment with one of our cardiologists, simply click the button below.

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