Cholesterol – The Good, The Bad and Triglycerides

Jan 25 by

Generally, three forms of fats are measured in a blood cholesterol test. The levels of each of these fats in your bloodstream determines if you might be at higher risk of heart disease. I call them the good, the bad and the tryglyceride, but there’s a serious point behind each of the different types. It pays to get to know the differences.

The Good – HDL

HDL is high-density class of lipoproteins. HDL is deemed the “good” cholesterol because it travels through your blood system and removes bad cholesterol. While high levels of HDL reduce your risk for heart disease, low levels can conversely increase the risk.

In order to navigate the bloodstream, HDL needs help from molecules called lipoproteins. HDL attaches to these lipoproteins, which then take it through the blood.

It is believed that HDL serves in the following ways:

  • HDL removes the bad cholesterol from atheroma within your arteries;
  • HDL transports the bad cholesterol to your liver, where it can then be excreted or reutilized;
  • HDL chemically cleans the inner walls of blood vessels. Damage to the walls is the beginning of atherosclerosis, which may cause strokes and heart attacks.

Good levels of HDL are greater than 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) Levels below 40 mg/dL are considered a risk.

It should be remembered levels of HDL vary for each person. A person with good levels of HDL may still be at risk for heart disease because of other factors.

The Bad – LDL

LDL is a low-density family of lipoproteins. LDL is regarded as the “bad” cholesterol because, as it circulates through your blood via lipoproteins, it is transported to your arteries. A high score of LDL can cause atherosclerosis which leaves a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

LDL acts in the following ways:

 
  • LDL has a propensity to attach itself to the walls of your arteries. LDL can begin adhering to artery walls even in childhood;
  • LDL is swallowed by white blood cells which try to digest the LDL;
  • Once LDL is swallowed, the white blood cells alter the LDL to a toxic form;
  • White blood cells congregate to cause a low-grade inflammation of the artery wall;
  • The collection of white cells eventually creates a bump in the artery wall, known as plaque, which consists of cholesterol, cells and debris;
  • The plaque grows and begins to block the artery.

Plaque is not only a danger because of blockage. A sudden rupture of the plaque surface will create a blood clot which, in turn, triggers a heart attack.

There are more classifications for levels of LDL than HDL. They are:

  • Excellent – Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
  • Almost excellent – Less than 100 – 192 mg/dL
  • Borderline high – Between 130 and 159 mg/dL
  • High – More than 160 mg/dL
  • Very High – More than 190 mg/dL.

Dependent on any other risk factors you have for heart disease, your doctor can advise you on which LDL goal is best for you.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in your body and are located in your blood. They are a significant energy source.

Your body utilizes calories it needs for immediate energy and stores the remainder in fat cells for when it requires more energy. The stored calories are turned into triglycerides. This is essential for good health, however, if you consume more calories than your body requires, your level of triglycerides will increase and become a precursor for several health issues known as metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome consists of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low HDL, excess waist fat and high triglycerides. Metabolic syndrome will put you at risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Certain medications may also cause high triglycerides.

As with HDL and LDL, your doctor can make recommendations regarding lowering triglycerides.

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