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February is American Heart Month, a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health.
What does dyslipidemia have to do with heart health? Dyslipidemia is the strongest risk factor for heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death; along with high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, smoking, obesity, age and family history of heart disease.
The literal translation of dyslipidemia is “dys” (something bad) – “lipid” (fat) – “emia” (present in the blood). What does dyslipidemia mean? It means that you might have too much “bad” or “lousy” (LDL-) cholesterol and/or triglycerides and/or too little “good” or “happy” (HDL-) cholesterol. We carry all kinds of fats in our blood but the 3 important ones are LDL- and HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides.
While there is no one cause, the levels of the fats in your blood are good predictors of heart disease and improving those levels can decrease your chance of serious consequences. To find out these fat levels, talk to us or your primary care physician and have a blood test. A blood test is the best first step towards finding out if you have dyslipidemia.
What Can You Do To Lower Your Risk?
In addition to stopping smoking, losing weight, controlling your blood pressure and diabetes, (we can’t change our age or our parents) addressing abnormal fat levels in your blood is important and doable. To address these fat levels, focus on healthy eating and increased physical activity; this should naturally lead to weight loss. Do your best to eliminate trans-fats, limit intake of saturated fats (to no more that 7% of calories per day). Focus on high fiber foods, fruit, vegetables, beans, eggplant, okra, almonds and other nuts, avocados, olive oil, barley, other whole whole grains, and fatty fish. Not sure where to start? We have Medical Nutritional Therapy and Diabetes Education programs designed to help you on your wellness journey.
If you have high LDL-cholesterol level and diet changes or meeting with a Diabetes Educator aren’t enough to lower it to your target, then many medications are available to get you there. Some people (for example, those with diabetes and those with already present heart disease) need to take these medications (especially statins) regardless of the blood levels since they have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Most commonly used prescription medications to lower your “bad” cholesterol are daily pills [statins (all ending with -“statin”), bempedoic acid (Nexletol), ezetimibe (Zetia)], monthly injections (Repatha, Praluent) or twice-per year injections (Leqvio); they are often taken in combination to achieve the desired results. There are also medications to lower high triglycerides (for example fenofibrate or Vascepa) and lower “good” cholesterol (niacin) but lowering risk of heart disease with these drugs has been usually observed in presence of statins.
Dyslipidemia is the strongest risk factor for heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death. Talk to us or your primary care physician and have a blood test to find out if you have dyslipidemia. Use this information to take care of your heart health!
For more information, you can check out the 2020 American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists algorithm on management of dyslipidemia (pro.aace.com), the 2018 guideline from American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ahajournals.org) and 2021 guidelines from European Society of Cardiology (escardio.org).
At Grunberger Diabetes Institute (GDI), we have the knowledge and expertise to assist you on your journey. We have a certificate of recognition from the American Diabetes Association for our Diabetes Self-Management Education Program, and doctors to help you manage your overall health. What makes GDI different is that we are a small business that takes the time to look at your health holistically, and are a one-stop-shop for all your endocrine and weight management needs.
Grunberger Diabetes Institute (GDI) provides Diabetes and Endocrine management, as well as a weight management program. Your wellbeing is assessed on an individual level and the treatment includes a plan for the improvement of your overall health and quality of life. We specialize in all things related to diabetes, endocrine, and weight management. This includes but isn’t limited to: diabetic neuropathy, dyslipidemia, obesity, diabetic recipes, reproductive endocrinology, osteoporosis treatment, male hypogonadism, hypercalcemia, all issues and diseases involving the thyroid gland (including thyroid cancer), patients transitioning from pediatric endocrinology to adult endocrinology, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Schedule with us today to find out why we’re voted the best Endocrinology practice.