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Digestive Disorders

Bilirubin and Cholesteral Levels

09/11/2006

Question:

Is there any connection between high belirubin levels and your cholesteral levels? My husband just received some blood tests and his belirubin levels are high, both cholesteral levels are higher/lower than the norm, as is his triglyceride level.

About five years ago his belirubin levels started to rise and now each year the cholesteral levels have followed. His doctor wants to put him on medicine without first trying to alter his diet and exercise. Should this be the first course of action?

Answer:

This question has been forwarded by Diet and Nutrition.

The interaction of bilirubin and cholesterol is very complex. Both substances are partly made in the liver and also stored in the liver. The fact that your husband has high bilirubin levels and high cholesterol levels may or may not be related to one another. High cholesterol/triglyceride levels is a very common problem in adults and increase the risk of people having strokes, and heart attacks. If the cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels are very high, diet and exercise will certainly help improve the levels but may not completely normalize them.

In terms of the bilirubin level being elevated, there are many many reasons for this. Sometimes medications, infections, inherited conditions, blockages in the bile ducts can cause these levels to be elevated. More investigation is needed to sort out why your husband's bilirubin levels are elevated by obtaining additional blood tests of the liver, and possibly an ultrasound or CT scan.

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Response by:

Julia Gore Thornton, MD Julia Gore Thornton, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University