What is it?
Hyperlipidemia is literally the presence of too much fat in the bloodstream. With this condition, you will have elevated cholesterol counts (LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol) and/or triglycerides. Excess levels of these fats speed up the process of hardening of the arteries, which reduces blood flow and can cause heart attack or stroke.
Lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels decreases this risk. Although some experts believe that current guidelines are not conservative enough, physicians recommend that, to minimize your risk of heart disease, your desirable lipid levels should be:
- LDL less that 130 mg / dL(ideal less that 70)
- HDL greater than 40 mg / dL(men) or 50 mg / dL(women)
- Total cholesterol less than 200 mg / dL(ideal less than 150)
- Triglycerides less than 150 mg / dL
Medications are often required to achieve these levels; however, therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC), including healthy diet and exercise choices, are considered the first line of treatment.
Elevated cholesterol levels do not absolutely predict blockage. Imaging technology may help measure degree of artery blockage. Carotid artery ultrasound and coronary artery calcium deposits can be measured. Coronary calcium scoring is more expensive, and it requires a CT scan.
What causes it?
There are two types of hyperlipidemia:
- The type that runs in families. If a close relative had early heart disease (father or brother affected before age 55, mother or sister affected before age 65), you also have an increased risk.
- The type caused by lifestyle habits or treatable medical conditions. Lifestyle-related causes include obesity, being sedentary, and smoking. Medical conditions that cause hyperlipidemia include diabetes, kidney disease, pregnancy, and having an underactive thyroid gland.
What role might cytokines play?
The study of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is now focused primarily in inflammation of the arteries rather than nutritional overload of the bloodstream with fat (although both are important). Cytokines are the primary mediator of inflammation and the focus of most research now is how to reduce cytokine-induced inflammation damage to the arteries. Inflammation leads to cholesterol deposits within the artery, collagen damage resulting in hardening or calcification of the artery, and clotting on the damaged surface of the inflamed artery. Diet plays a role in promoting or reducing the degree of inflammation cytokines produce. The PrescriptFit MNT Plan optimizes protection from excess cytokine production.
What results could I expect with MNT?
For most of our patients, Food Phases 1 and 2 are associated with the most profound decreases in cholesterol and triglyceride levels. You may see rises in cholesterol levels with some Food Phases that involve some saturated fats, such as those that allow poultry, eggs, pork, beef, dairy, or baked goods. Nuts may actually lower cholesterol levels.
Proving you can control cholesterol with diet, then demonstrating which foods elevate cholesterol, makes infinitely more sense than initially taking a cholesterol-lowering medication. Even if medication is required, diet management is still very important. The learning curve provided by the MNT Plan can be invaluable in deciding if a particular food should be avoided or medication required.
How can I measure symptom change on the plan?
First, talk to your doctor about your cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as your risk level, in general, for heart disease. Have your doctor share with you what your last lipids screening results were. This will give you a baseline to compare with future measurements. Next, purchase a cholesterol testing kit at a local pharmacy (available without a prescription). Test your cholesterol level every four weeks if using the recommended 7 or 14 day Plans.
Most importantly, you (and your doctor) need a way to measure progress over time. Talk with your doctor at each regular visit about your symptoms and how they might change using the PrescriptFit Plan. Share your test results with your doctor.
As with any medical condition, treatment may mean that you are taking medications to reduce your cholesterol. With MNT, you may find that as your symptoms lessen, you need less medication.