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Cholesterol
Good, Bad...
Huh?
There is
good
cholesterol,
and there’s
bad
.
What’s the difference? Why are they important?
We’ll cover some of that, and share some tips and
ideas for controlling one’s cholesterol levels.
HDL, LDL, & Lp(a)...
What ARE These?
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are known
as “good cholesterol”. Most experts agree that
HDL moves the cholesterol from the arteries
to the liver, where it is broken down and leaves
the body through the natural evacuation
process. A higher HDL level seems to reduce
the risk of heart attack or stroke. Keep in
mind, though, that a lower HDL level in
one’s body (-40 mg/dL in men, -50 mg d/L in
women) is a warning signal of greater risk of
one or both.
HDL seems to remove excess cholesterol from
the plaques which build up in one’s blood
vessels, thereby inhibiting or slowing their
growth. This is what makes it so important to
the human body. Approximately 1/3 to 1/4 of
the cholesterol in our bodies is carried by the
HDL.
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are the major
transporters of cholesterol in our blood.
One can experience a build up on the walls
of the arteries which supply blood to our
hearts and brains, if too much LDL enters the
blood stream. When combined with other
substances, it forms plaques. Plaques are hard,
thick coatings that can clog one’s arteries and
decrease blood flow to the heart or the brain.
Should the blood not move swiftly enough,
there is danger of a blood clot forming near
the plaques. When this occurs in the arteries
leading to the heart, one is at greater risk of
a heart attack. If it happens in the arteries
which lead to one’s brain, there is a higher risk
of stroke.
If one’s LDL level is 160 mg/dL or higher,
this is an indication of a greater risk of
heart disease. And if one has already been
diagnosed with heart disease, it is strongly
recommended that one maintain a level of less
than 100 mg/dL.
A little known (by the general population)
lipoprotein that can also cause a greater risk
is the Lp(a) cholesterol lipoprotein. This is a
generic variation of plasma (the “fluid” which
carries the blood cells through one’s blood
stream) LDL. When one’s Lp(a) level is higher,
one can more quickly develop the plaque
build up which physicians and specialists
refer to as “arthersclerosis”. Although there
has been no conclusive evidence drawn as to
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that’s
stored in the fat (lipid) content of one’s blood
stream. It’s actually important to have a
certain amount of “good” cholesterol in one’s
system.
Cholesterol and our other body fats,
cannot dissolve in our blood. They must
be transported by special carriers called
lipoproteins. While there are numerous kinds
(too many to cover here), the two that are most
important are the high-density lipoproteins
(HDL) and the low-density lipoproteins
(LDL). There is a third kind, which is referred
to as Lp(a), which can increase one’s risk of
heart attack and stroke. We’ll cover that one
here, as well.
24
July/Aug 2013