Demystifying LDL and HDL – the bad and good cholesterol

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Stent implant concept as a heart disease treatment symbol with an angioplasty procedure in an artery that has cholesterol plaque blockage being opened for increased blood flow as a 3D illustration.

They clog your arteries and make your heart vulnerable. But not all cholesterol is bad. Medibulletin takes you through bad and good cholesterol

The terms bad and good cholesterol are used in every conversation theses days. Cholesterol tests, also called lipid profile measure the amount of cholesterol in mg/dL. Most tests show HDL, LDL, triglyceride, total (serum) cholesterol and total cholesterol/HDL ratio. The total cholesterol score is a person’s HDL and LDL cholesterol levels and 20 percent of their triglyceride level added together.

Bur how to make sense of those tests and those levels? Read on.

Bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) deposits excess cholesterol in your arteries that builds up plaques increasing the likelihood of heart disease and blood clots.

Good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) carries excess cholesterol back to your liver so that it can be excreted.

It is advised to keep LDL levels down and HDL levels up to prevent heart disease.

The National Institutes of Health have published the following cholesterol guidelines. These numbers should be correlated with other element like any pre-existing diseases, lifestyle factors like smoking, obesity, alcohol intake, and family history of heart disease to determine overall heart disease risk.

Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or non-fat dairy products, fish, poultry without the skin, and, in moderate amounts, lean meats, avoid smoking, limit use of saturated fats, fried foods, salt, and sweets, and exercising for 30 minutes, four to five times per week to achieve healthy cholesterol levels.

 

Total Cholesterol :

Total cholesterol level

Category

Less than 200 mg/dL

Desirable

200-239 mg/dL

Borderline high

240 mg/dL and above

High

 

LDL Cholesterol :

LDL cholesterol level

Category

Less than 100 mg/dL

Optimal

100-129 mg/dL

Near optimal – above optimal

130-159 mg/dL

Borderline high

160-189 mg/dL

High

190 mg/dL and above

Very high

 

HDL Cholesterol :

HDL Cholesterol level

Category

Less than 40 mg/dL

Heart disease risk

40-59 mg/dL

The higher, the better

Greater than 60 mg/dL

Protects against heart disease

 

According to AHA, consideration for other factors like triglyceride level, other existing health conditions, lifestyle, and family history of heart disease is essential to arrive at a desirable cholesterol level.

Optimal level for LDL is considered to be 100 mg/dl and for HDL it is above 60 mg/dl for healthy individuals.

It is desirable to get a cholesterol check at least every 5 years, or as recommended by a doctor. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or non-fat dairy products, fish, poultry without the skin, and, in moderate amounts, lean meats, avoid smoking, limit use of saturated fats, fried foods, salt, and sweets, and exercising for 30 minutes, four to five times per week to achieve healthy cholesterol levels.