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Dyslipidemia is a medical term for abnormal levels of fat (lipid) in the blood. These fats can include triglycerides (how most fat is stored in the body), low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol), high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good” cholesterol), and total cholesterol.
While dyslipidemia can refer to levels of fat in the blood that are too high or too low, in the United States, most cases are of levels that are too high. While a certain amount of cholesterol or fat is needed for your body to work properly, levels that are too high can increase your chance of getting heart disease, stroke, and other problems.

While there are a few rare disorders that cause dyslipidemia to be passed down through families, most cases of abnormal cholesterol and fat levels are the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, which includes eating a diet that is too high in fat, being overweight, using alcohol heavily, and not exercising enough.
There are also several diseases that can raise cholesterol and fat levels, such as diabetes,hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Women who take birth control pills or who are pregnant may have altered cholesterol levels.
Some drugs, including diuretics, beta-blockers, and depression medications can also alter cholesterol levels in the blood.

Dyslipidemia by itself usually does not cause symptoms but can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other serious diseases.
Very high levels of triglycerides can cause acute pancreatitis. Very high levels of LDL can cause eyelid xanthelasmas (yellow deposits of cholesterol underneath the skin around the eyelids), arcus corneae (white, grey, or blue opaque ring on the periphery of the cornea), and tendinous xanthomas (yellow nodules of cholesterol usually found at the tendons of the Achilles, elbows, knees, and fingers).
Severely high levels of fats can give blood a white or milky appearance, which can lead to altered sensation of the skin, difficulty breathing, and confusion.

Your doctor may order a cholesterol test to diagnose dyslipidemia. Everyone should have their first screening test by age 35 in men and by age 45 in women. A cholesterol test will include LDL, HDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.
The targets for levels are the following:
LDL: Because LDL is the bad cholesterol, you want your levels to be low (less than 130, or less than 100 if other risk factors, like diabetes, are present).
HDL: Because HDL is the good cholesterol, you want your levels to be high (greater than 60).
Triglycerides: This is the chemical form in which most fat exists in the body. You want this number to be low (less than 150).
Total cholesterol: This measures all kinds of cholesterol. You want this level to be low (less than 200).
An LDL greater than 130 (or greater than 100 with risk factors), an HDL less than 60, triglycerides greater than 150, and a total cholesterol level greater than 200 may indicate a diagnosis of dyslipidemia.

There are some steps everyone can take to improve their cholesterol levels like eating foods low in fat (whole grains, fruits, vegetables) and exercising regularly. Quitting smoking is the single most important change you can make to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
If the lifestyle changes do not work and you have had previous heart disease or diabetes or are at risk for heart disease even if you’ve never had it, your doctor may want you to take medications. Some of these medications lower LDL cholesterol, some lower triglycerides, and others raise HDL cholesterol. The most often used medicines are statins, which help lower cholesterol.

A healthy lifestyle can help prevent high levels of fats and cholesterol. Some things you can do include eating right and exercising regularly.
  • You should eat foods that are low in fat, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and use low-fat toppings, sauces, and dressings.
  • Choose lean protein foods like soy, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and fat-free or 1% milk.
  • Do not eat foods high in saturated fats (look at food labels).
  • Limit fried foods.
  • Limit baked goods, such as donuts, cookies, and crackers.
  • Eat fewer egg yolks, hard cheeses, whole milk, cream, ice cream, butter, and fatty meats.
  • Use health ways to cook fish, chicken, and lean meats, like broiling, grilling, poaching, and baking.
  • Eat foods that are high in fiber, like oats, bran, split peas, lentils, beans, and brown rice.