In small quantities, fat is useful to our health. Unfortunately, we often eat more fat than necessary for benefits like nutrient absorption and joint protection. Our bodies do what they can to push excess fat into storage, leading to weight gain, but often the excess fat will also build-up in the blood stream.
This may lead to unhealthy blood levels of fats or lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides . When this occurs, the condition is known as hyperlipidemia.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a form of fat that the body naturally produces to help with certain functions. It travels in our blood to help create hormones, transport vitamins and even help with the digestion and breakdown of nutrients.
There are two forms of cholesterol:
- LDL or low-density lipoproteins: This is the “bad” cholesterol. This form of cholesterol builds-up in your arteries, preventing optimal blood flow from your heart to other areas of your body.
- HDL or high-density lipoproteins: This is “good” cholesterol, and it is what transports cholesterol from other parts of your body to your liver where it can be discarded.
Hyperlipidemia is partially caused by “high cholesterol.” This develops when there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood-stream. Cholesterol contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, a substance that hardens and ultimately narrows the blood vessels preventing blood getting to vital organs such as your heart and brain High levels of LDL cholesterol increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
In contrast to LDL cholesterol, high levels of HDL cholesterol can actually reduce your risk of heart disease, as it promotes the excretion of cholesterol from the body. Low levels of HDL cholesterol will also contribute to hyperlipidemia.
What are Triglycerides?
Triglicerides are the other component of hyperlipidemia. They are a type of fat found in the blood that the body uses for energy. When triglyceride levels become too high they contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries. High triglyceride levels will increase your risk for heart disease.
Measuring Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Hyperlipidemia is diagnosed through a blood test called a lipid profile that evaluates the level of lipids, or fat, in the blood. A single blood test can report levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. These levels are then assessed on the following scales:
Range of optimal cholesterol levels:
- Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol should be greater than 60 mg/dL
Range of optimal triglycerides:
- Less than 150 is normal
- 150 – 199 is borderline high
- 200 – 499 is high
- 500 or higher is very high
Treatment for Hyperlipidemia
Because cholesterol is manufactured in the body, dietary restrictions may not be sufficient to control LDL cholesterol. Medications are often prescribed to help manage the level of fats in the blood. In many cases, however, hyperlipidemia can be managed with weight control, eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity.
Many people experience improvements to their cholesterol and triglyceride levels during a medical weight loss program, and are able to reduce or eliminate their need for cholesterol medications as a result. Treatment for hyperlipidemia is viewed as a preventative measure against coronary heart disease and stroke.
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a medical condition that prevents the body from properly processing blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is highly associated with excess weight and afflicts many obese people, putting them at risk of disabling symptoms and complications.
Because type 2 diabetes and its precursors are closely tied to obesity, weight loss is often all that is needed to improve or resolve them. Even a moderate amount of weight loss can help many people reduce diabetes medications and even put the disease into remission.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that occurs when the airway is temporarily obstructed during sleep, causing disruptions in breathing. These interruptions can last a few seconds at a time or more than a minute, and may occur between 5-30 times over the course of an hour. Breathing often resumes with loud snoring choking or gasping sound, which can further interrupt sleep.
Obesity and Joint Pain
Obesity is among the leading causes of immobility in adults. An accumulation of excess body weight increases pressure on the joints, especially the hips, knees and ankles. Over time, excess weight can cause cartilage in these joints to wear down, and this may lead to severe pain and difficulty walking.
Arthritis is a chronic condition caused by inflammation in the joints. It can develop at any joint in the body, including the ankles and knees, the hips, the wrists or elbows. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis.
Understanding Metabolic Syndrome
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for a series of health problems. One common obesity-related condition is metabolic syndrome.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for a collection of medical conditions that commonly develop in association with obesity. There are five primary risk factors considered in metabolic syndrome. If at least three of them occur together, the condition is diagnosed.
Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart beats. If this pressure remains consistently high, this can cause a number of health issues. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 1 in 3 adults in the US have hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
People who have hypertension often experience few or no symptoms, but over time, their bodies may still suffer harmful effects, including heart, blood vessel and kidney damage.
Understanding Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic condition resulting in the contents of the stomach flowing back up and irritating the esophagus. Normally, a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) would prevent anything from returning up through the esophagus, but due to factors such as obesity, pregnancy or smoking, the LES may become weakened and unable to properly block the stomach’s content.ay.
Obesity and Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States. Every year, about 600,000 Americans die from heart disease. That is one death every minute related to heart disease. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing heart disease. Losing weight is one of the more effective ways of reducing that risk.
Joint Pain and Obesity
Obesity and excessive weight can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on your body. Carrying extra weight makes it more difficult to move around and accelerates the wear on your joints and your spine. Extra weight makes it difficult to perform simple tasks that rely on your joints for movement such as squatting, running or climbing stairs. It can also lead to joint disorders such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.