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What Does Ldl Cholesterol Do

Cardiovascular And Circulatory Systems

What Does “Bad” Cholesterol Do?

When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your body it can build up in your arteries, clogging them and making them less flexible. Hardening of the arteries is called atherosclerosis. Blood doesnt flow as well through stiff arteries, so your heart has to work harder to push blood through them. Over time, as plaque builds up in your arteries, you can develop heart disease.

Plaque buildup in coronary arteries can disrupt the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. This may cause chest pain called angina. Angina isnt a heart attack, but it is a temporary disruption of blood flow. Its a warning that youre at risk for a heart attack. A piece of plaque can eventually break off and form a clot or the artery may continue to become narrowed which can fully block blood flow to your heart, leading to a heart attack. If this process occurs in the arteries going to the brain or within the brain it can lead to a stroke.

Plaque can also block the flow of blood to arteries that supply blood to your intestinal tract, legs, and feet. This is called peripheral arterial disease .

Factors That Could Contribute To An Ldl Level Of 1:

  • Diet: Eating a diet that is high in saturated fats, trans fats, added sugar, and low in fiber can cause LDL cholesterol to rise.
  • Weight. Being overweight also tends to increase cholesterol levels, including LDL cholesterol.
  • Physical inactivity. A sedentary lifestyle can increase LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Smoking. Smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol which can contribute to a higher level of LDL cholesterol.
  • Medications: Certain medications can increase cholesterol levels. These include: corticosteroids, beta-blockers, thiazide diuretics, antivirals, retinoids, and growth hormones.
  • Diseases: Some diseases like chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS can elevate total cholesterol and LDL.
  • Age and Sex: Premenopausal women tend to have lower total and LDL cholesterol levels than men of the same age. However, cholesterol levels tend to increase with age, in both women and men. After the age of menopause, women’s LDL cholesterol levels tend to rise.
  • Genetics : High blood cholesterol can run in families. This is because your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes.
  • Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high blood cholesterol. For example, Blacks/African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than Caucasians.

What Do I Need To Know Before Getting Screened

A cholesterol test is a simple blood test. Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before the test. The results give you four measurements:1,3

  • Total cholesterol. Less than 200 mg/dL is considered normal.
  • LDL cholesterol. Less than 100 mg/dL is considered normal. LDL is sometimes called bad cholesterol, because it can build up and clog your arteries, eventually leading to heart disease or stroke.
  • HDL cholesterol. It is best to have more than 40 mg/dL. HDL is sometimes called good cholesterol, because it can help clear arteries of cholesterol buildup.
  • Triglycerides. This is a type of fat in the blood. Normal levels are typically below 150 mg/dL.

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Myth: All Cholesterol Is Bad For You

Fact: Some types of cholesterol are essential for good health. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells. Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:

  • LDL , sometimes called bad cholesterol, makes up most of your bodys cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • HDL , or good cholesterol, carries cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque. As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing can restrict and eventually block blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina or a heart attack.

Measure Your Ldl And Other Blood Lipids

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Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol checked at least every five years through a blood test. The guidelines recommend you have a complete “lipoprotein profile” that measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein , and triglycerides, another type of fat in the blood stream. The test should be performed after fasting.

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Cholesterol Myths And Facts

Cholesterol can be confusing! Learn answers to common questions about blood cholesterol.

What do your cholesterol numbers mean? Can the foods you eat change your cholesterol levels?

Learn the difference between cholesterol myth and fact. Then commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Ldl Cholesterol: Dont Aim For Zero But Do Aim Low

LDL -C or LDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as the bad cholesterol and HDL cholesterol is the good kind.

This good vs evil dichotomy of thinking is prevalent to this day in mainstream medical literature.

For example, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, LDL cholesterol levels are a major factor in risk for cardiovascular disease. Hopkins recommends that people with cardiovascular disease should take medication if their LDL level is 70 mg/dl or higher.

LDL, which is actually a fatty protein, not technically a cholesterol, is the fall guy for heart disease. Thats because LDL tends to accumulate in arterial walls. Consequently, blood flow can stagnate. Stroke, heart attacks or heart disease can result. Numerous studies show that LDL-C is associated with a higher rate of cardiovascular disease?

In light of this, should you make it your mission to get your LDL level as close to zero as possible?

Well, maybe not.

On one hand, LDL-C, especially small dense particles, contribute to atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries. On the other hand, LDL-C carries out vital functions in the cardiovascular system.

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How To Lower Vldl Cholesterol

Because your VLDL cholesterol levels are largely influenced by your triglyceride levels, reducing these will help reduce your VLDL levels.

Eat mindfullyYour body makes triglycerides when you take in more calories than you need. Eating mindfully can help prevent this. Mindful eating includes following hunger cues, eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, thinking about how it makes you feel, and stopping when full.

Keep your alcohol intake lowIn susceptible people, very small amounts of alcohol can raise triglyceride levels. Having no more than 14 units a week can help keep triglyceride levels low. As well as having a few alcohol-free days and not binge drinking.

Get enough omega-3 fatsOmega-3 fats might help to lower triglyceride levels, as well as your blood pressure and risk of clotting. Oily fish, like salmon, is one of the best sources of omega-3s. There are some plant sources of omega-3, like chia seeds and walnuts. But your body finds it harder to use this type of omega-3, so EPA/DHA supplements can help.

Your Total Cholesterol Figure Divided By The Hdl

What is Cholesterol?

Whats healthy? The lower this figure, the better. Ideally 4.5, while above 6 is considered high risk.

What should I do? This reading will help your GP work out whether your overall cholesterol levels are healthy, which in turn helps them calculate your risk of CVD another reason why its important to have full cholesterol results, not just TC. It could be high if your TC, LDL-C and non-HDL cholesterol levels are too high, or if your HDL-C is too low, or a combination of both. Maintaining a healthy TC:HDL ratio long-term can help reduce your risk of CVD in future. You can do this by following the advice above.

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The Many Benefits Of Ldl

If you find yourself in a conversation about heart disease or atherosclerosis you will more than likely find yourself talking about cholesterol, especially the lipoprotein called LDL. For the better part of 70 years LDL has dominated the conversation about cardiovascular disease, solely because it has been blamed for the disease. If you follow my blog, you know a lot about why it has been wrongly blamed. I believe it is time that we redeem LDL. Rather than discussing the evidence of why it isnt bad and is not the cause of heart disease, we will instead discuss how beneficial it is for the body.

If LDL was such a problematic entity and it had the ability to kill us by causing heart disease so readily, then evolution would have selected out LDL a long time ago. Those with higher LDL would not have survived as well as those without it and those high LDL genes would have been weeded out. However, LDL was preserved by evolution and when we start to look into all the roles of LDL in the body we start to see why.

LDL is low density lipoprotein. It is a vesical for carrying around cholesterol. Cholesterol is not dissolvable in water and cannot travel through the blood so it is packaged up into LDL, and other lipoproteins, to be transported. LDL has an identifying protein on it, therefore it is called a lipoprotein.

Stay healthy out there!

Want to learn more fascinating information about the heart? to find out more about my heart course, or , Understanding the Heart.

How To Lower Cholesterol: Know Your Fats

The American Heart Association recommends that just 25% to 35% of your daily calories come from fats such as those found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. For healthy people, saturated fat should comprise no more than 7% of your total calories. On a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, thats about 140 calories worth of saturated fat. If you need to lower your LDL cholesterol, limit saturated fat to 5% to 6% of calories, or about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat on a 2,000-calorie diet. Reduce trans fats to less than 1% of your total daily calories. This means avoiding fried foods and many junk foods.

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What Is The Difference Between Good And Bad Cholesterol

Last reviewed January 6, 2022

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Cholesterol a waxy substance that builds in the arteries is not completely harmful, despite its reputation for being bad for you. In fact, some of it can even improve your health when consumed in the right amounts.

The physicians at the USC Cardiac and Vascular Institute at Keck Medicine of USC can measure your good cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels, and help you adopt healthier eating and living habits so you can achieve the best balance of both.

Understand The Difference Between Total Cholesterol And High Density Lipoprotein And Low Density Lipoprotein

HDL and LDL. Do you know the difference?

If you doctor is referring to your total cholesterol and is making decision based on your TC Run, dont walk. Run away and find another doctor. TC is comprised of low density lipoprotein , so-called bad cholesterol even though it isnt bad. High density lipoprotein , so-called good cholesterol, and remnant cholesterol . Initial studies in the 1960s and 70s looked at TC and risk of cardiovascular disease and found a weak association. That was prior to when scientists learned how to measure LDL and HDL.

Studies then looked at the individual lipoproteins and found the higher the LDL, in general, the higher the risk for CVD. And the higher the HDL< the lower the risk of CVD. So, while talking about TC was cutting edge in the 60s and 70s, it is woefully outdated today. That is why if your doctor is still evaluating and treating TCRun!

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Dietary Tips To Avoid Cholesterol

The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:

  • Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
  • Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have added calcium soy drinks.
  • Choose lean meat .
  • Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
  • Have fish at least twice a week.
  • Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
  • Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
  • Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.

Other storage fats that are transported in blood lipoproteins include triglycerides. When present in high concentrations in the blood, this fat is also a risk for heart attack. Some foods will affect the cholesterol level or the triglyceride level and some will affect both.

The 3 Main Types Of Cholesterol

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There are 3 main types of cholesterol LDL, VLDL, and HDL. While some cholesterol is essential for your health, if your LDL and VLDL levels are too high it’s linked to an increased risk of heart disease. While HDL cholesterol can actually help to protect against heart disease.

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Which Foods Increase Ldl Cholesterol Levels

Your diet plays a massive role in determining your cholesterol levels. Foods high in trans fats, saturated fats, and salts can be especially dangerous. These include:

  • Red meats
  • Donuts, cookies, crackers, and other baked goods
  • Fast foods
  • Chicken with the skin on
  • Cured or processed meats

Many food items you find in the store may have trans and saturated fats and high sodium, so make sure to carefully read the nutrition information before buying.

Dangers Of High Ldl Cholesterol

How to Read a Cholesterol Test: LDL, HDL, Lp(a), Apo(e), sdLDL, TG/HDL, ApoA1/ApoB

When LDL levels are high, a range of conditions can arise, some of which are very dangerous. Most notable of these are:

  • CAD: Leading to chest pains , shortness of breath, heart palpitations, elevated heart rate, dizziness and nausea, sweating, and muscular weakness. This can lead to heart attack, among other severe and potentially fatal complications.
  • Carotid artery disease: The carotid arteries are important arteries on each side of the neck. If atherosclerosis blocks these, stroke can arise.
  • PAD: Partial or complete blockage of arteries outside of the heart, especially in the lower limbs, can lead to swelling, muscular weakness, inflammation, and pain, especially when active.
  • Heart attack: Occlusion of the cardiac arteries leads to muscles in the heart not getting the oxygen they need. This condition, characterized by angina, breathing difficulties, among other symptoms, leads to cell death in this organ and is a medical emergency.
  • Stroke: Another common complication of high LDL and its associated conditions is stroke, an attack due to the rapid death of brain cells. As with other issues, this occurs due to clotting in arteries of the brain.
  • Cardiac arrest: In very rare cases, high LDL, especially if it leads to CAD, can cause your heart to suddenly stop. This is fatal if not treated immediately.

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How To Lower Ldl Cholesterol

Lifestyle and diet changes are the main ways to prevent or lower high LDL. A trial of eating a low-fat diet, regular aerobic activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and smaller waist circumference is an appropriate first step. It is best to set a timeline to achieve your goals with your doctor. In some cases, if those lifestyle changes are not enough, your physician may suggest a cholesterol lowering medication, such as a statin. If you are considering over-the-counter herbal or ayurvedic medications for cholesterol, please discuss those with your physician first as well.

Rarely, very high LDL is genetic and passed down in families. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia and is caused by a genetic mutation that decreases the livers ability to clear excess cholesterol. This condition can lead to very high LDL levels, and heart attack or stroke at a young age in multiple generations. Those individuals may require special medical treatment for prevention and treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Remember, knowledge is the first step. If you dont know your cholesterol levels, get tested. That will give you and your physician a starting point for lifestyle changes and medications if needed. In the meantime, adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, and do it with friends and family no matter their ages. Theres no time like the present to prevent heart disease.

How Can I Keep Healthy Blood Cholesterol Levels

Talk to your doctor about your numbers. Your risk of disease depends on other factors, too, in combination with high cholesterol. To keep your cholesterol managed, you should do the following:

  • Choose healthy foods. Limit foods that are high in saturated or trans fats, sugar, and sodium . Choose foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and veggies, and in unsaturated fats, such as avocados and nuts. Learn more about healthy eatingexternal icon.
  • Stay physically active. You should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as biking or brisk walking, every week.6Learn more about physical activityexternal icon.
  • Dont smoke. Smoking damages the blood vessels and greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you smoke, learn how to quit.
  • Take medicine if necessary. A healthy diet and physical activity can help many people reach healthy cholesterol levels, but some people may need medicines to lower their cholesterol. Always take your medicine as prescribed.

Learn more about ways to prevent high cholesterol.

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