What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a wax-like chemical compound naturally produced by the liver. It is also absorbed from food as it passes through the intestines. It is also carried in the bloodstream to be transported to all the cells in the body.
What is LDL and HDL?
LDL and HDL are types of lipoprotein that carries cholesterol to and from the cells.
LDL is a low density lipoprotein that primarily transports cholesterol in the bloodstream. Too much LDL cholesterol contributes to plaque, which is a thick hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. A healthy amount of LDL helps make the cell membrane, bile, and helps prevent heart disease. It can also synthesize Vitamin D from sun exposure. 50% of the weight is cholesterol and 25% is protein.
HDL is a high density lipoprotein that gets rid of cholesterol in the walls of the arteries and takes the cholesterol to the liver to be removed from the body. 20% of the weight is cholesterol and 50% is protein.
How does fat intake affect cholesterol levels?
If a person takes in too much fat than cholesterol levels will rise, which can cause and unbalance of HDL and LDL.
High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis which increases the risk of heart attacks and ischemic stroke. High HDL cholesterol decreases the risk of coronary heart disease, but can also decrease levels of LDL which is needed for the human body.
What doctors monitor.
They monitor LDL and HDL concentration in patient's blood. Physicians monitor these two factors because their levels in the blood help doctors to evaluate a person's health status and determine whether a person is at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Doctors also monitor other molecules other than LDL and HDL in a patient's blood. These molecules are glucose and triglycerides.
Results of a cholesterol test
Cholesterol levels are measured by milligrams per deciliter. For total cholesterol, bellow 200 mg/dL is normal, 200-239 mg/dL is a little high, and 240 mg/dL and above is too high.
A doctor will also take into account age, family history, and blood pressure to diagnose a person with heart disease.
How people interpret test results
Patients interpret high values as a bad thing. But for HDL cholesterol, having higher levels of this is better becauses you are at a lesser risk of getting heart disease. Having low LDL levels is also good.
Change LDL and HDL levels in the blood
There are many ways to change LDL and HDL levels in the blood.
- Eating healthier (eliminating cholesterol from a person's diet and trans fats)
- Reduce saturated fats in the body (which is animal products and certain oils)
- Increase fiber intake (soluble fibers slow the absorption of cholesterol)
- Quit smoking
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Lose weight
A. (2015, February 23). Cholesterol Education: HDL, LDL, and How to Control It. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/ffl/newsletter/cholesterol-education-hdl-ldl-and-how-to-control
Good vs. Bad Cholesterol. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/Good-vs-Bad-Cholesterol_UCM_305561_Article.jsp#.WNEzM_nyvIU
LDL and HDL: “Bad” and “Good” Cholesterol. (2015, March 16). Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm
Mayo Clinic Staff Print. (2016, January 12). Results. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cholesterol-test/details/results/rsc-20169555
Paigeandquinn, /. (2015, April 29). What other molecules in a patient's blood are monitored along with LDL and HDL? Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://thetruthaboutcholesterol.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/what-other-molecules-in-a-patients-blood-are-monitored-along-with-ldl-and-hdl/
Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935?pg=1
Understanding Cholesterol Numbers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/understanding-numbers#1
What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/What-Your-Cholesterol-Levels-Mean_UCM_305562_Article.jsp#.WNGfqfnyuUk
Writer, L. G. (2012, May 22). How Do LDL and HDL Differ Structurally and Functionally? Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/ldl-hdl-differ-structurally-functionally-2003.html