‘Silent disease’ dyslipidemia, early detection is key: Weekly Donga

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If left untreated, ‘dyslipidemia’ can cause myocardial infarction or cerebral infarction. [GettyImages]

Dyslipidemia, commonly called ‘hyperlipidemia’, refers to a condition in which total cholesterol, LDL (low-density) cholesterol, triglycerides in the blood are excessive, or HDL (high-density) cholesterol is low. Dyslipidemia is a problem because there are no specific symptoms even if these lipids are excessively accumulated on the blood vessel wall. Kim Kwang-hwi, a specialist in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the KMI Gwanghwamun Center, advises, “If cholesterol levels are left unattended, myocardial infarction or cerebral infarction can occur, so prevention is absolutely necessary.”

Q What tests are used to diagnose dyslipidemia?

A “There are lipid metabolism and cardiovascular tests. Lipid metabolism refers to a series of processes in which fat is produced and broken down in our body, and the cardiovascular system refers to the heart and all blood vessels distributed throughout the body. The most important criterion for diagnosing dyslipidemia is LDL cholesterol, which is called ‘bad cholesterol’. LDL cholesterol accelerates the accumulation of fat on the walls of blood vessels. For an average person without underlying disease, 160 mg/dL or higher is considered high. People with diabetes need treatment if it is more than 100 mg/dL. On the other hand, HDL cholesterol is called ‘good cholesterol’ because it prevents fat from accumulating on the walls of blood vessels. In the past, high LDL cholesterol was referred to as ‘hyperlipidemia’, but in the case of HDL cholesterol, the lower the level, the worse the condition.

Q What is the relationship between dyslipidemia and diabetes?

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A “Cholesterol adversely affects blood vessels, and diabetes is a disease that has an adverse effect as much as that. In order to manage blood vessels in a healthy way and prevent cardiovascular disease, both cholesterol and diabetes must be well controlled. Failure to manage them increases the risk of cerebral infarction and myocardial infarction.”

Q What are the causes of dyslipidemia and how to manage it?

A “It is affected by personal characteristics such as gender, age, genetics, and lifestyle habits such as exercise and diet. Men are at a higher risk than women, and they tend to have higher cholesterol levels with age. Lifestyle habits that enjoy drinking and smoking also have an impact. If the LDL cholesterol level is 160 mg/dL or higher, you should practice smoking cessation, abstinence from alcohol, and exercise along with medication. Above all else, it is important to maintain an appropriate weight through exercise.”

Q Is it true that eating foods high in cholesterol is not good?

A “Cholesterol in food is not directly absorbed by our body, but is used as a nutrient through digestion. Cholesterol is considered a type of fat, so it is better to avoid foods containing a lot of saturated fatty acids.”

※You can watch more detailed information about lipid metabolism and cardiovascular system test on the YouTube channel of the Korea Meteorological Administration

Weekly Donga No. 1344 (p64~64)

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