How Does Fat Metabolism Work? Different Types of Lipid Metabolism Disorders

Lipid Metabolism Disorders: A changed composition of the blood lipids is usually the trigger for a lipid metabolism disorder. We explain the different types and what they are covered.

Fats are very important for our body. They supply him with energy and form a protective cushion around our organs. However, if the percentage of fat in the blood is too high, this can lead to a lipid metabolism disorder. We give an overview of the different types.

How Does Fat Metabolism Work?

The term lipid metabolism encompasses the build-up and breakdown, digestion and transport of fats in the body. The body can produce most of the fats it needs itself. The rest he takes in through food. The fats are transported through the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body. But since fats are poorly soluble, they need support. They adhere to special proteins, so-called lipoproteins, for transport. This means that the distribution of the fats is no longer a problem.

The most important fats include cholesterol and triglycerides. If their amount in the blood increases and becomes too high, a lipid metabolism disorder can occur. A lipid metabolism disorder is less of a disease in its own right, but more of a symptom that can have serious consequences. Doctors differentiate between primary and secondary lipid metabolism disorders.

Primary lipid Metabolism Disorder:

A primary lipid metabolism disorder is triggered by a genetic defect. Therefore, a particular lipid metabolism disorder can occur frequently in one family. However, a genetic predisposition does not mean that a lipid metabolism disorder must automatically occur. Other factors, such as diet and alcohol consumption, also play a role here.

Overall, primary fat metabolism disorders are rare. They are divided as follows:

  • Hyperlipidemia: In hyperlipidemia, the cholesterol level, the triglyceride level and the amount of lipoproteins in the blood are increased.
  • Hypertriglyceridaemia: In hypertriglyceridaemia, the triacylglycerides in the blood are increased.
  • Hypcholesterolaemia: Hypocholesterolaemia is characterized by an increased level of cholesterol in the blood.

Secondary Lipid Metabolism Disorder:

The difference between primary and secondary lipid metabolism disorders is fluid, as both are very similar. In the case of a secondary lipid metabolism disorder, however, it is not a genetic defect that is the trigger, but a different disease or certain living conditions. This includes:

  • Obesity/overweight
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypothyroidism
  • A lot of stress
  • High fat and high calorie diet
  • High alcohol and nicotine consumption

Symptoms and Consequences of a Lipid Metabolism Disorder:

Fat metabolism disorders often go undetected for a long time because they usually show no symptoms. Even so, the consequences can be serious. The blood vessels are damaged in the long term by the deposition of cholesterol. This increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, angina pectoris and general circulatory disorders. It is therefore very important to recognize and treat a lipid metabolism disorder.

Diagnosis of a Lipid Metabolism Disorder:

A lipid metabolism disorder can be determined by a blood test. The doctor looks at the total cholesterol level and the number of triglycerides in the blood. When it comes to cholesterol levels, values ​​up to 200 mg / dl are considered normal. As far as triglycerides are concerned, less than 150 mg / dL should be measured.


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Blood lipid levels can fluctuate widely during the day. Therefore, it is important to have the blood draw done in the morning on an empty stomach to get correct results. Anyone who has a familial predisposition to a lipid metabolism disorder should have their blood values checked at least every two years (or more frequently) during a routine examination. This is the only way to detect a lipid metabolism disorder at an early stage.

Lipid Metabolism Disorder: How To Treat?

Most of the time, a change in diet comes first in the case of a lipid metabolism disorder. It is important that those affected reduce the amount of fat in their food. In addition, they should lose excess weight and integrate more exercise into everyday life. Those affected should also avoid nicotine and alcohol. In some cases, the cholesterol and triglyceride levels drop significantly as a result of these measures. If that is not enough, the doctor can also prescribe medication that reduces the blood fat level.

As a rule, medication and a change in lifestyle can reduce blood lipid levels sufficiently. Only in rare cases do doctors recommend blood washing (apheresis). This cleanses the blood of fats.

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