Your body needs cholesterol — the good and the bad — to work properly.
Dyslipidemia, also called dyslipoproteinemia, is a metabolic disorder of lipids, the fats in your blood. Of course, your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but as with most things, too much cholesterol can be harmful. In fact, abnormal lipid profiles greatly increase your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack. Dyslipidemia can be inherited, or it may be the result of unhealthy choices that you can control, such as inactivity, obesity, smoking and poor nutrition. Certain medications and medical conditions can also cause dyslipidemia.
The best way to determine if you have high cholesterol is with a blood test.
A standard cholesterol test (called a lipid panel) will assess your overall cholesterol profile. In general, a high HDL level is beneficial. On the other hand, high triglycerides and LDL reliably lead to early cardiovascular disease. Sometimes your doctor may recommend specialized lipid studies, or heart and vascular imaging to determine the best treatment for you.
Lipid screening is important, and adult screening may start as early as age 20 depending on your health history. It’s important to learn your cholesterol levels and follow your doctor’s recommendations — such as lifestyle changes or lipid-lowering medications — if your cholesterol is too high.