Dyslipidemia refers to unhealthy levels of one or more kinds of lipid (fat) in your blood. Your blood contains three main types of lipid: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides.

If you have dyslipidemia, it usually means your LDL levels or your triglycerides are too high. It can also mean your HDL levels are too low.

Types of dyslipidemias

Dyslipidemia is divided up into primary and secondary types. Primary dyslipidemia is inherited. Secondary dyslipidemia is an acquired condition. That means it develops from other causes, such as obesity or diabetes. You may hear the term hyperlipidemia used interchangeably with dyslipidemia. But that’s not entirely accurate. Hyperlipidemia refers to high levels of LDL or triglycerides. Dyslipidemia can refer to levels that are either higher or lower than the normal range for those blood fats.

  • Familial combined hyperlipidemia: This is the most common inherited cause of both high LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. If you have familial combined hyperlipidemia, you could develop these problems in your teens or 20s. You’re also at a higher risk for early coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack. Learn more about this condition.
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia & polygenic hypercholesterolemia: These are both characterized by high total cholesterol. You can calculate your total cholesterol by adding your LDL and HDL levels, along with half of your triglyceride level. A total cholesterol level of under 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is best.
  • Familial hyperapobetalipoproteinemia: This condition means you have high levels of apolipoprotein B, a protein that is part of your LDL cholesterol.


Several behaviors can lead to dyslipidemia. They include:

  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle
  • Consumption of foods high in saturated fat and trans fat
  • Excessive alcohol consumption may also contribute to higher triglyceride levels.
  • You’re at a higher risk of primary dyslipidemia if one or both of your parents had dyslipidemia.
  • Advancing age is also a risk factor for high cholesterol. Women tend to have lower LDL levels than men until menopause. That’s when women’s LDL levels start to rise.


You could have dyslipidemia and never know it. Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol doesn’t have obvious symptoms. It’s often discovered during a routine blood test.

However, dyslipidemia can lead to cardiovascular disease, which can be symptomatic. High LDL cholesterol levels are associated with coronary artery disease (CAD), which is blockage in the arteries of your heart, and peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is blockage in the arteries of your legs. CAD can lead to chest pain and eventually a heart attack. The main symptom of PAD is leg pain when walking.


  • Try to maintain a healthy weight by following a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly. You should also quit smoking if you smoke.
  • If you’re concerned about dyslipidemia, discuss with us how you can guard against it.
  • If you have a family history of high cholesterol, be proactive about leading a healthy life before your cholesterol numbers start to move toward unhealthy levels.


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