Excess fat in the blood, known as hyperlipidemia, may be caused by lack of exercise, obesity, smoking or diseases, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism, according to VascularWeb. Hyperlipidemia can also be triggered by pregnancy or inherited genetically, especially when individuals have a family history of early-onset heart disease.
Men have an increased risk of developing hyperlipidemia if they are over 45, and women over 55 face the same risks, VascularWeb states. Although hyperlipidemia is an umbrella turn for conditions involving unhealthy increases in lipid, or fat, levels, it often manifests as high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Cholesterol is classified by two subcategories: low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, and high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, the American Heart Association explains. LDL can damage heart health by increasing the buildup of plaque, which are rigid, fatty deposits that cause blockages in arteries. In contrast, HDL helps to strengthen heart function by transporting LDL to the liver so it can be cleared out of the system.
Triglycerides are fats that absorb the excess energy from digested foods, the American Heart Association states. Living a sedentary lifestyle and overconsuming carbohydrates are behavioral factors that contribute to a rise in triglycerides. Both LDL and triglycerides can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition that causes the arteries to become clogged and hardened.