Lipid Management

Lipids, more commonly known as cholesterol, are tiny particles that are present in your blood. These natural substances serve several functions in your body. They are crucial for energy storage and development of cell membranes. There are several types of lipids present in your body:

  • Good cholesterol, also known as HDL (high density lipoproteins)

  • Bad cholesterol, also known as LDL (low density lipoproteins)

  • Triglycerides, which are a type of fat in the blood

High levels of cholesterol are bad for you because they cause a hard substance called plaque to build up in your arteries, that is, the blood vessels that carry oxygen rich blood to your organs. Plaque causes the arteries to become narrow and restrict the amount of oxygen received by your organs causing their functions to become impaired. This disease is known as atherosclerosis and it affects all areas of your body, including the heart, limbs, kidney and brain.

There are several factors contributing to lipid disorders, such as:

  • Family history

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Unhealthy diet

  • Smoking

As a result, you may suffer from various vascular diseases (diseases affecting the vessels) such as:

  • Coronary heart disease, that is, those diseases that affect the arteries supplying blood to the heart.

  • Carotid artery disease, that is, those diseases that affect the arteries located in the neck and deliver blood to the brain.

  • Peripheral artery disease, that is, those diseases that affect arteries that carry blood to your head, organs and limbs.​

​High cholesterol usually does not present with any symptoms, so you may be unaware that you need to control your levels of cholesterol. Over time, high cholesterol may lead to greater risk of stroke and heart attacks so it presents symptoms of those diseases, including chest pain, shortness of breath or fatigue. 

​It is recommended that you should be regularly checked for cholesterol levels, especially around and after the age of thirty five. This is particularly important if you are in a high risk category for high cholesterol. This category includes smokers, people suffering from diabetes, overweight people, those with high blood pressure or with a history of heart disease.  At times, high cholesterol may be present in children and adolescents as well, in which case it is imperative to consult with your doctor and begin treatment immediately. The <Heart, Lungs and Vascular Service Line> at The Aga Khan University Hospital offers quality health care and a range of treatment options if needed.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers multidisciplinary medical care under one roof, including advanced imaging equipment for an accurate diagnosis. During your initial consultation, your doctor will perform blood tests to determine the type of lipid disorder you may be suffering from. He/she will then try to determine if the lipid problem is due to something other than diet or is hereditary. Your doctor will measure and diagnose high cholesterol with a simple blood test, known as a lipid profile. Prior to the test, you will be required to fast for nine to twelve hours, so that your lipid profile result is not biased due to any food that you may have recently consumed.

The results of the test will indicate whether your level of cholesterol is healthy, borderline or alarming. 

The following numbers indicate the levels of cholesterol that lie in the defined categories.

Total cholesterol:

  • 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or less is considered normal

  • 201 to 240 mg/dL is borderline

  • Higher than 240 mg/dL is considered high

HDL (good cholesterol):

  • 60 mg/dL or higher is good

  • Between 40 and 59 mg/dL is acceptable

  • Less than 40 mg/dL HDL is low

  • LDL (bad cholesterol):

  • An LDL of less than 100 mg/dL is optimal

  • An LDL of 100 to 129 mg/dL is near-optimal

  • LDL between 130 and 159 mg/dL is borderline high

  • LDL cholesterol between 160 and 189 mg/dL is high

  • An LDL of 190 mg/dL or more is considered very high

If your lipid profile is alarming, your doctor may suggest you to make lifestyle changes to help lower it. He/she may ask you to undertake the following measures:

  • Lose weight and improve your diet by adding more fibres, low fat dairy products, whole grains, fish and fruits. Avoid fried foods, sugary beverages and desserts. 

  • Exercise regularly

  • Quit smoking

  • Avoid drinking excess alcohol

For extremely high risk patients, you may be prescribed medications called statins or fibrates to help control your cholesterol levels. These have to be taken over the long term, usually for the rest of your life. These drugs can cause several side effects such as muscle aches. You can consult your doctor for a list of potential side effects. 

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider. ​