Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dyslipidemia: What Every Filipino Should Know

Cardiovascular diseases are still very much prevalent in the lives of many Filipinos. This is due to the fact that Filipinos love to eat. Each time we gather, there will always be something to eat. And even if we eat something that's supposedly nutritious such as the Ilocano vegetable dish Pinakbet, still it's not as healthy as you think it is. Why is that so? Primarily because we cook our Pinakbet with fermented shrimp paste [Bagoong] which is really salty and we also include chunks of crispy deep-fried bagnet [pork belly] as toppings for our pinakbet. So how would you say that it is a healthy vegetable dish when you have all of these things as part of your ingredients? That's why we are said to be predisposed to CVD and ischemic stroke among many other lifestyle associated diseases. 

Have you ever heard of Dyslipidemia? I have not encountered this word until I had recently heard about it when I had attended a bloggers event by Zuellig Pharma and Amgen Philippines to create awareness of CVD and its implications. During the said event, Dr. Lourdes Ella Santos, MD, an Adult Cardiologist and Lipidologist gave a short talk about this alarming condition called dyslipidemia as well as discussed about other risk factors on certain heart diseases and ailments.

What exactly is dyslipidemia and what does every Filipino should know about it? Dyslipidemia is an abnormally in cholesterol, Cholesterol is made up of three components. When you get your blood chem tested, you'll see your lipid profile and total cholesterol. 

Lourdes Ella Santos, MD, an Adult Cardiologist and Lipidologist gave a talk on dyslipidemia

There's the HDL Cholesterol [also known as Good cholesterol] This one protects you fro, heart attack or stroke. The higher your HDL is, the higher your good cholesterol is, the lesser the chance that you will develop CVD and other heart related diseases. We get good cholesterol from fatty fish like salmon and milkfish belly fats as well as nuts like almonds and walnuts. 

Triglycerides get converted to sugar which we need to manage. As part of Filipino diet's staple food are carbs--we get a lot of that because we eat white rice, white bread, white pasta, potatoes, sweets like ice cream, soda, coffee and iced teas. The higher your triglycerides, the greater the risk that you will become insulin resistant or become diabetic. And certainly, when you get diabetes, heart problems eventually occur as well. 

LDL-C [a.k.a. The Bad cholesterol] Dr. Santos explains that bad cholesterol's perfect example would have to be the sinfully delicious lechon de leche [roasted suckling pig]. It could be anything that we get out of the fats we eat from animals--beef, pork, chicken as well as processed oils when we cook fried foods. Transfats in fast food chains also count as bad cholesterol. Yes, that favorite French fries of yours is also included. 

Dr. Santos said that if we have elevated LDL, it may block our veins. Of course, should there be a blockage in our veins, our heart flow wouldn't become normal and it might eventually lead to heart attack. If it's an arterial blockage in our brain, it could lead to stroke and if it's a blockage on our limbs, it's called Peripehal Arterial Disease [PAD] where the patient experience leg cramps or leg pains with just  short walks. But the underlying reason of heart attack and stroke is almost the same thing--blockage of the arteries and the main culprit remains to be due to LDL Cholesterol. 

I'm diabetic and I need to see my doctor soon to have myself checked for possible PAD as I would often experience leg cramps and pains. This is one thing I seem to overlook. Knowledge they say is power, perhaps I was meant to attend this event to be able to understand more about the implications of CVD and its direct connection to my diabetes. 

Lourdes Ella Santos, MD explains what dyslipidemia is
Dr. Santos reiterates that if any components elevates, your total cholesterol elevates as well. "We do not treat your total cholesterol because we need good cholesterol, we only treat those with high LDL and high triglycerides. When we talk about Dyslipidemia, it means an elevated total cholesterol, LDL, Triglyceride or low HDL. If you're a patient with low HDL, even if your total cholesterol is elevated, you're still considered Dyslipidemic. If you have dyslipidemia, it is identified as a high risk factor to have a heart attack or stroke. The bad news is it is asymptomatic [meaning it doesn't have much symptoms]. But if these risk factors are treated, there's a lower chance for you on getting a heart attack or stroke. 

The sad part is that most Filipinos would only visit and see a doctor once they've had a heart attack or stroke. CVD is still the leading global cause of death worldwide. That's why it is equally important for us to know  the cause of CVD and dyslipidemia is one of them. 

Each year, 17.3M deaths are seen globally attributed to CVD. Ischemic stroke has a high percentage that contributes to CVD. Ischemic is the blockage of the arteries in the brain. But if it's a blockage of the heart, it's called as Coronary Heart Disease [CVD]. Again, all these are because of one of its risk factors, Dyslipidemia. 

Dr. Santos also mentioned that as a rule of thumb, eating eggs three times a week is okay. White eggs are healthy, eggs being a best source of protein. Egg yolk on the other hand may still be healthy because it contains lots of vitamins but it should be eaten with caution. 

The standard treatment in treating and lowering LDL-C are statin drugs. But sometimes it may not be enough. 

It is still best to have an annual executive checkup and blood workup for those 45 years old and above. But for those with sedentary lifestyle, it's best to have your blood work up rather than be sorry later on. It's still way cheaper to have yourself get tested rather than see yourself in the ICU. 

It's really a good thing that people nowadays are becoming more and more aware of heart related diseases. Thanks to Amgen Philippines and Zuellig Pharma who are both committed to improving tge lives of patients struggling with dyslipidemia by making sure they take necessary actions to prevent and manage their health risks. 

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