Lipids and Cholesterol

Hyperlipidemia is an umbrella term that refers to any of several acquired or genetic disorders that result in a high level of lipids (fats, cholesterol and triglycerides) circulating in the blood. The term hyperlipidemia can cover many conditions, but for most people, it comes down to two well-known terms: high cholesterol and high triglykerides.

Our bodies produce and use a certain amount of lipids every day, but sometimes that system gets out of whack, either because of a genetic predisposition or because of a high fat diet and a sedentary lifestyle. The excess lipids build up in the walls of our arteries and increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which can lead to carotid artery disease and stroke, coronary disease and heart attack and peripheral vascular disease and need for amputation. The risk of atherosclerosis is even higher if you smoke, if you have diabetes, high blood pressure and/or kidney failure.


Hyperlipidemia itself does not cause symptoms, other than slowly and silently generating atherosclerosis. Your doctor will usually recommend blood tests to monitor your lipids and recommend lifestyle changes and medical therapy as needed.

Regardless of the cause of elevated blood lipids, the important therapeutic goal is to reduce them. For people who have mild to moderate elevations and no other cardiovascular disease risk factors (including family history of hyperlipidemia), lifestyle changes alone may be enough to bring lipid levels down to acceptable ranges. When lipid levels remain elevated despite lifestyle changes, or the person cannot make adequate lifestyle changes, health experts recommend lipid-lowering medications.

Consulting a doctor is important, since each condition has it quirks. For people with high triglycerides, for example, alcohol can be particularly dangerous. But for those with high cholesterol, a daily glass of wine or other alcohol, along with healthy eating and exercise, may actually help.


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vascular health

Vascular Surgeon

Dr. Efthymios (Makis) Avgerinos is a Vascular Surgeon, Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in USA.


Scientific Editing

Efthymios D. Avgerinos, MD, PhD, FEBVS
Associate Professor of Surgery
Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center Pennsylvania, USA