What Is Dyslipidemia?
Dyslipidemia, sometimes also referred to as hyperlipidemia, is characterized by an elevation of plasma cholesterol, triglycerides (TGs), or both, or a low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level – and is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The most common type of dyslipidemia is characterized by high LDL (also called “bad cholesterol”) levels, which is sometimes genetically inherited but can also be greatly impacted by diet. But most frequently, it is a consequence of unhealthy eating habits and other diseases. Low levels of HDL (the “good cholesterol“) along with high levels of triglycerides have similar root causes compared to high LDL cholesterol (namely genetics, poor diet, and obesity).
The underlying issue resulting in dyslipidemia is abnormal lipid metabolism:
- Lipid metabolism is essential for survival, and lipids are involved in many critical functions such as energy storage, creating cellular structures, production of hormones & steroids, supporting brain function, and promoting the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
- Lipid absorption occurs when fats are consumed from the diet, followed by breakdown in the liver and in adipose tissue. Both of these processes are regulated by changes in glucose, insulin and glucagon hormones.
The Conventional Approach To Dyslipidemia
A third of the American population suffers from elevated cholesterol levels beyond what’s considered a “healthy” range and are prescribed statins and other medications to adjust cholesterol levels.
Yet new studies have revealed that cholesterol numbers are not the most accurate indicators for heart disease and cardiovascular risk. The conventional approach primarily seeks to reduce the LDL cholesterol and triglycerides with medications – without considering that these numbers are just a sign of some other underlying dysfunction.
For example, the conventional treatment approach does not test or look at the other factors that cause heart disease – which is why many people who have cholesterol numbers in the “healthy range” still die of heart attacks.
In addition, taking statins can have harmful effects on an already inflamed body – including harming your liver and damaging your muscles. Very rarely, statins can cause life-threatening rhabdomyolysis – resulting in severe muscle pain, liver damage, and kidney failure.
The Functional Medicine Approach To Dyslipidemia
What we’ve realized is that high cholesterol typically acts as a “bio-marker” – and just by “artificially” changing those levels in isolation, you do nothing to address the underlying issues.
In fact, it’s now recognized that too-low cholesterol is dangerous because cholesterol is necessary to build important hormones like testosterone and neurotransmitters.
That’s why at Dr. Angela follows a functional medicine approach to identify what factors contribute to the observed high lipid levels – so we can create a custom-tailored protocol to address all the issues that are causing elevated cholesterol and lipid levels, instead of relying on prescription meds that just artificially lower them.
In almost all cases, we find that diet is one of the central issues. For example, eating excessive amounts of sugar, processed whites carbohydrates, inflammatory fats and not including detoxifying vegetables are the main contributors. This type of diet also derails insulin levels, causing excessive triglyceride levels to build up – which in turn raises cholesterol levels.
We also look at other lifestyle factors – including sleep patterns, stress, and genetic influences that may be contributing. This “full-body” approach is the best way to greatly lower your risk and also provide you with a plan for vibrant, overall health.
If you are concerned about your cardiovascular risk due to elevated lipid levels and other hidden factors, we invite you to schedule a complimentary phone consultation to explore your best next steps.
The goal of addressing dyslipidemia is to avoid other related diseases such as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), acute coronary syndromes, stroke, transient ischemic attack, or peripheral arterial disease.
That’s why in our program, we conduct a thorough intake of all the factors that could be causing your dyslipidemia and guide you on the best path to reducing your risk factors.