Dyslipidemia: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Last updated on February 2nd, 2023

Dyslipidemia is referred to unhealthy levels of one or more types of fat (lipids) in the blood. Blood lipids are fat-containing compounds such as cholesterol and triglycerides. A lot of individuals attain healthy levels by consuming a healthy diet and other aspects of their lifestyle. Yet, some need medicines to prevent other medical conditions.

A person’s blood comprises 3 major types of lipids:

  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
  • triglycerides

If a person experiences dyslipidemia, it generally implies too high levels of LDL or triglycerides. Also, it might indicate too low levels of HDL. LDL cholesterol is the “bad” form of cholesterol. This is due to the fact that it might accumulate and produce plaques or clumps in the arterial walls. An excess of plaque in the arteries of a person’s heart might result in heart attack.

HDL is a good type of cholesterol as it aids in the removal of LDL from the blood. Triglycerides derive from the calories a person consumes, however don’t burn instantaneously. The storage of triglycerides occurs in the fat cells. Their release occurs in the form of energy when they require them. If a person consumes more calories than burning rate, person may get an accumulation of triglycerides.

High triglycerides and LDL levels puts a person at a high risk of heart attack and stroke. Low HDL levels associate with a greater cardiovascular risk. Read this article to know about the advisable cholesterol levels by age.


Dyslipidemia happens when a person has irregular levels of lipids in their blood. Healthy levels of blood lipids naturally differ from individual to individual. Yet, individuals having very low HDL levels or high LDL and triglycerides levels are expected to be at a high risk of atherosclerosis.

Types of Dyslipidemia

Dyslipidemia can be of two types, primary and secondary dyslipidemia. Primary dyslipidemia is an inherited form, while secondary dyslipidemia is an acquired condition. That implies that it develops from other reasons like diabetes or obesity.

A person might hear the term hyperlipidemia employed correspondently with dyslipidemia. However, this is not completely precise. Hyperlipidemia is a condition in which the levels of LDL or triglycerides become too high. Dyslipidemia refers to higher or lower levels than the normal range of blood fats.

Among the particular forms of primary dyslipidemia include:

  • Familial combined hyperlipidemia. It is a common hereditary reason for both high triglycerides and high LDL cholesterol. If a person has this condition, he or she might develop issues in their teens or 20s. Also, a person develops a high risk of early coronary artery disease, which might give rise to a heart attack.
  • Familial hyperapobetalipoproteinemia. This health problems occurs when a person has high levels of apolipoprotein B. It is a type of protein considered part of LDL cholesterol.
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia. It is marked by high total cholesterol. A person may calculate the total cholesterol by adding the levels of LDL and HDL and half of the triglyceride level. A total cholesterol level of below 200 mg per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered good.

Hyperlipoproteinemia is a health problem that might be primary or secondary. If a person experiences this problem, his or her body has trouble in breaking down LDL cholesterol or triglycerides.

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Dyslipidemia Symptoms

Unless it is serious, a lot of individuals experiencing dyslipidemia remain unconscious whether they have it or not. A healthcare provider would generally diagnose dyslipidemia during a routine blood test.

Serious or untreated form of dyslipidemia may cause other medical problems such as coronary artery disease (CAD) and peripheral artery disease (PAD). Both these medical problems may result in severe health complications such as heart attacks and strokes. Common signs of such conditions can be:

  • dizziness
  • leg pain, particularly while walking or standing
  • heartburn or indigestion
  • tightness or pressure in the chest or chest pain
  • breathing difficulty
  • pain, tightness, and pressure in the neck, jaw, shoulders, and back
  • fainting
  • sleep issues and daytime fatigue
  • cold sweats
  • nausea and vomiting
  • heart palpitations
  • inflammation in the ankles, legs, feet, stomach, and veins of the neck

These signs might deteriorate with stress or physical activity and recuperate when an individual rests. Speak to a doctor regarding chest pain, particularly any of the above signs following it. Any person who experiences drowsiness, serious chest pain, and weakness or issues in breathing must look for an instant medical care.


Many individuals do not experience signs when their cholesterol is high. Individuals who have a hereditary disease with cholesterol clearance that results in too high cholesterol levels might acquire xanthomas or corneal arcus. Xanthomas are the waxy, fatty plaques developing on the skin, while corneal arcus are rings of cholesterol around the iris of the eye.

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Dyslipidemia Causes and Who’s at Risk

Numerous behaviors may cause dyslipidemia. They can be:

  • obesity and an inactive lifestyle
  • cigarette smoking
  • intake of foods rich in trans-fat and saturated fat

Too much intake of alcohol might also add to higher triglyceride levels. A person is at a greater risk of primary dyslipidemia if one or both of parents experienced dyslipidemia. Moreover, advancing age is a risk factor for high levels of cholesterol. Females are expected to have lower levels of LDL as compared to males until menopause. That’s when female’s levels of LDL begin to rise.

Other health problems that may elevate the risk of dyslipidemia can be:

  • chronic kidney disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • hypothyroidism

In addition, a low level of HDL cholesterol relates to a high LDL level, even if the two numbers don’t always move in tandem.

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Dyslipidemia Diagnosis

A simple blood test that assesses the levels of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides reveals whether levels are high, low, or in a healthy limit. These numbers might vary from year to year; hence it is better to get an annual blood work done. If a person consumes medicines for dyslipidemia, healthcare provider might wish to do more recurrent blood tests.

Treatment of Dyslipidemia

The most commonly utilized medicine for treating dyslipidemia is a statin. Statins aids to lower down the levels of LDL levels by hindering with the production of cholesterol in the liver. There are numerous kinds of statins. All of them work in a little different manner, with a few being stronger than others.

A physician might also suggest other cholesterol medicines. People might consume them together with a statin or instead of a statin. There a number of pros and cons to consider while selecting cholesterol-controlling medications. Such non-statin medications are:

  • fibrates such as fenofibrate
  • ezetimibe
  • PCSK9 inhibitors


A doctor will usually focus on lowering a person’s levels of triglycerides and LDL. However, treatment can vary, depending on the underlying cause of dyslipidemia and how severe it is. Doctors may prescribe one or more lipid-modifying medications for people with very high total cholesterol levels of at least 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood.

Any Side Effects of Hyperlipidemia Treatment?

Any medicine may produce side effects; however, the benefits of statins balance the risks of minor side effects. It is better to inform the healthcare provider if a person is not doing well on the prescribed medication. Doctors may develop a plan to manage the signs.

How Soon Does the Hyperlipidemia Treatment Begin Working?

A healthcare provider would order another blood test nearly 2-3 months after a person begins taking hyperlipidemia medicine. The test results determine whether there is any improvement in the cholesterol levels. This also determines whether the medication or lifestyle changes are working.

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Lifestyle Remedies for Dyslipidemia

Lifestyle alterations are helpful in controlling the cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The initial step is to diet modification. Changes must involve intake of less saturated fat, processed sugar, and alcohol. A person must include more of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains to one’s diet. Also, regular physical activity and weight loss helps in improving the cholesterol profile.

Natural treatments are:

  • Dyslipidemia diet includes: lesser unhealthy fats (present in red meats, full-fat dairy products), processed carbs, chips, chocolate, and fried foods
  • Augmenting the intake of healthy polyunsaturated fats, like from nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, olive oil, and whole grains
  • Consuming omega-3 oil, in capsule or liquid forms
  • Having enough dietary fiber derived from fruits, veggies, and whole grains
  • Regular exercises
  • Avoiding sitting for long hours
  • Lowering or avoiding alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking or other tobacco products
  • Preserving a healthy body weight, by weight loss if essential
  • Minimum of six to eight hours of sleep a night
  • Having plenty of water


Individuals having minor dyslipidemia generally show no signs. They may often manage or resolve their condition by incorporating several lifestyle adjustments.

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Prevention Tips

  • A healthy weight management is important. This is possible by following a heart-healthy diet and regular physical activity. Also, people must quit smoking if they smoke.
  • If a person is worried about dyslipidemia, speak to a doctor how a person may protect against it.
  • If a person has a family history of high cholesterol, be positive on living a healthy life before the cholesterol numbers begin moving towards unhealthy levels.


Using cholesterol-lowering medications like statins or fibrates and a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to manage dyslipidemia. The important point is to keep consuming medicines if they’re successful at managing the cholesterol numbers and person is not getting any side effects. At times, individuals reach their targets of cholesterol and stop consuming their statins. If a person follows healthcare provider’s suggestion, he or she must be capable of controlling their dyslipidemia and reduce their risk of heart disorders.


How does exercise make better dyslipidemia?

Exercise promotes enzymes useful for moving LDL from the blood (and blood-vessel walls) to the liver. The cholesterol gets converted into bile (for the purpose of digestion) or gets eliminated. Hence, more a person exercises, the more LDL a person’s body expels.

Can dyslipidemia result in diabetes?

The development of dyslipidemia might be an indication of future diabetes. A typical pattern, characterized by diabetic dyslipidemia, comprises low HDL, high triglycerides, and postprandial lipemia.

Is it possible to reverse dyslipidemia?

Hyperlipidemia is curable, however it’s often a lasting condition. A person would require watching what to consume and also exercise frequently. A person may also require consuming a prescription medicine as well. The objective is to reduce the damaging cholesterol levels.

How to rule out dyslipidemia?

The diagnosis of dyslipidemia is possible with measurement of serum lipids. Routine measurements (lipid profile) involve HDL and LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol (TC), TGs etc.


  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/dyslipidemia
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321844#outlook
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21656-hyperlipidemia

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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