Hyperlipoproteinemia type IV is also known as familial hypertriglyceridemia. If you have this disorder, you have a higher-than-normal triglyceride level due to a genetic defect. As a result, you may experience hardening of your arteries. This can put you at risk of various heart conditions, including coronary artery disease.
Triglycerides are a form of fat that’s found in your tissues and bloodstream. High levels of triglycerides in your body can lead to hardened arteries. This can affect the amount of blood and oxygen that’s circulated throughout your body.
If you have this disorder, you may not experience any symptoms. Since the disorder is genetic, the largest indicators can be found in your family history. You may be at risk if you have parents or family members who’ve had this disorder or related heart conditions. Some people who have this disorder develop coronary artery disease at a younger age than usual.
You may be at higher risk of hyperlipoproteinemia type IV if you have a family history of heart disease before the age of 50. You’re also at higher risk if you have high levels of very low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol). According to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, 5 to 10 percent of the population has this condition.
The disorder is caused by a genetic defect that’s passed down through families. The defect is called autosomal dominant. This means that if one or both of your parents has the defective gene, you will likely develop the condition.
People who have the disorder generally share other conditions. These include obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, and high blood glucose or insulin levels. These related conditions can also raise your triglyceride levels. This may increase your risk of a severe case of hypertriglyceridemia.
During a routine blood cholesterol test, your doctor may notice that your triglyceride levels are high. If you have a family history of high triglyceride levels, your doctor may suspect that you have the disorder. They may also suspect you have the disorder if people in your family have had heart disease before the age of 50. Your doctor may recommend a series of blood tests called a coronary risk profile. These tests check the amount of very low-density lipoproteins and triglycerides in your blood.
The goal of treatment is to control factors that may raise your triglyceride levels. This includes managing conditions like diabetes and obesity. Certain medications, such as hormonal birth control, can also raise your triglyceride levels. You and your doctor can create a treatment plan that’s suitable for your individual needs.
Also, you’ll need to make strict dietary changes to treat this disorder. Your doctor will suggest that you avoid drinking alcohol. And they may recommend that you avoid consuming any extra calories. Watch what you’re eating and try to avoid foods high in saturated fats and carbohydrates.
If you still have high triglyceride levels after making these changes, your doctor may prescribe medications to help lower them. These medications include:
- niacin (nicotinic acid)
People who are diagnosed with this disorder have an increased risk of developing other conditions. For example, you may have a higher risk of developing pancreatitis or coronary artery disease. Losing weight or managing your diabetes may help you prevent these conditions.
If you don’t get treatment for the disorder, you may be at risk of serious complications. These complications include:
- heart attack
- kidney failure
- heart disease
Speak with your doctor to learn more about managing your condition and lowering your risk of complications.
You can’t avoid inheriting the genetic defect that causes hyperlipoproteinemia type IV. But you can take steps to manage your triglyceride levels.
Eat a heart-healthy diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Other healthy foods include low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes. Limit your consumption of red meat and processed sugar. You should also get regular exercise and avoid tobacco.
Blood cholesterol tests can also help you keep track of your triglyceride levels. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends routine cholesterol screening beginning at age 20 if you have:
- high blood pressure
- a history of tobacco use
- a family history of heart disease before age 50