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Dyslipidemia - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Updated on December 6, 2013

What is Dyslipidemia?

Dyslipidemia is a condition of the blood in which there is an abnormality in the level of lipids in the blood. The condition involves the level in lipoprotein which could either go too low or too high. The "low density lipoprotein" refers to the bad cholesterol and the "high density lipoprotein" refers to the good cholesterol in the blood. The condition of dyslipidemia is also common in patients suffering from Type 2 Diabetes.

Lipids are a diverse group of naturally occurring molecules that contain hydrocarbons and serves as the building blocks of the structure and function of the cells in the body. The lipids are oxidized during metabolism to release large amounts of energy necessary for the living organisms. It is a non-polar molecules and not soluble in water and are only soluble in non-polar environment such as ether, chloroform and other lipids.

Lipids are a very diverse group composed of phospholipids, fats, waxes and steroids. These molecules are very essential to make human and other living organism function accordingly. Dyslipidemia involves either the low density lipoprotein or high density lipoprotein. Low density lipoproteins or the bad cholesterol as commonly called, is among the five major groups of lipoprotein that allows the conveyance of multiple diverse fat molecules in the water surrounding the cells and inside the water based bloodstream. The low density lipoprotein holds cholesterol in the blood and around the body to be used by the cells. High density lipoprotein or the good cholesterol on the other hand holds cholesterol from the tissue of the body to the liver. The common term of bad cholesterol in LDL is referred as a link in the high levels and disease in the cardiovascular. High density lipoprotein is branded as good cholesterol from its ability to remove cholesterol from the arteries back to the liver for excretion.

The incidence of dyslipidemia affects the overall health status of an individual which could lead to the hardening of the arteries later in life especially if dyslipidemia is not monitored and left untreated. The abnormality in the levels of lipid could occur without symptoms and the progression for many years can result to stroke and heart attack in later years of life.


The onset of dyslipidemia may be presented with a myriad of signs and symptoms that can help in diagnosing the blood disorder. Dyslipidemia may go unnoticed or asymptomatic or may ensue with life-threatening symptoms. The onset of life-threatening symptoms is imperative for a prompt diagnosis to properly manage the disorder and prevent life-threatening complications.

The signs and symptoms of dyslipidemia are often the manifestations of different conditions associated with dyslipidemia.

Some of the common symptoms that may be encountered in relation to dyslipidemia may include the following:

Corneal opification is among the ocular findings that may be exhibited to people with dyslipidemia. The ophthalmologic sign is the result of very low level of high density lipoprotein due to a mutation in the regulatory genes.

Corneal Arcus is also among the ophthalmologic sign that may be exhibited by a person with dyslipidemia. This clinical manifestation associated with dyslipidemia is common to people below the age of 50 years.

Xanthomas is the most common dermatologic sign of dyslipidemia. These are firm and non-tender deposit of cutaneous that are cholesteryl ester-enriched foam cells that are commonly observed in people with high levels of low density lipoproteins.

The mentioned are just a few of the condition that are associated with dyslipidemia and other signs and symptoms may also include the following:

  • Balance impairment
  • Pain in the calf when walking
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty in speaking


Numerous factors and causes can lead to an abnormality in the levels of lipids in the blood and these include the following:

Genetic predisposition puts an individual at risk for dyslipidemia. It is partly implicated on the genes that determine the amount of cholesterol that can be produced in the body. It is observed that dyslipidemia often runs in the family.

Diet is a factor for the dyslipidemia that depends on the dietary intake or food consumption of an individual. Intake of food high in saturated fats and cholesterol affects the levels of lipids in the blood which can make it go either high or low. This also includes drinking too much alcohol beverage which is also another trigger for dyslipidemia.

Sedentary lifestyle can affect the level of lipids in the blood. Inactivity is a proven factor to increase the levels of bad cholesterol.

Age and gender are an uncontrollable factor that can influence the levels of lipids in the blood. The levels of cholesterols typically increase as people advances in age. Women have lower levels of cholesterol prior to onset of menopause and the levels rises after menopause making women more prone to dyslipidemia than men.

Type II Diabetes is a condition affecting the metabolism of sugar. It tends the body to resist the effects of insulin. The abnormality in glucose levels affects the levels of lipids in the blood.


The diagnosis of dyslipidemia is carried out through laboratory tests by measuring the levels of lipids in the blood of an individual. The test measures the total plasma cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and the individual lipoproteins in the blood. There is no exact numeric definition of dyslipidemia that can determine whether the level is normal or not since the measurement of lipids are continuous. The linear relevance is probably coexistence between the levels of lipids and the risk for cardiovascular disease. It is recommended however to have a regular monitoring of the lipid level to determine the activity in terms of its measurement that is predetermining of dyslipidemia.


The treatment of lipid disorder is dependent on the age and overall health condition of an individual including the manifested signs and symptoms. The treatment is basically more about a lifestyle change to help stabilize the levels of lipids.

Well-balanced diet is necessary to control the levels of lipids. Foods that are naturally low in fat and rich in soluble fiber can prevent and help control lipid levels.

Regular exercise is beneficial in avoiding gaining too much weight that is considered a factor for dyslipidemia.

Healthy lifestyle is encouraged by avoiding cigarette smoking and too much consumption of alcohol.

Pharmacological treatment can only be determined and prescribed by a doctor. The medications however may include the likes of statin, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, bile acid and nicotinic acid.


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