High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol VS. Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol

High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol

There are two kinds of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is typically known as the good cholesterol and LDL is known as the bad cholesterol. HDL and LDL are the combinations of fat/protein that carries cholesterol around in the body — particularly around in bloodstreams. This is because cholesterol cannot dissolve in blood, and so lipoproteins are needed to carry the cholesterol out of the blood, according to the American Heart Association. So what’s the difference between HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol?

LDL cholesterol stays in the blood and, if there is too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, the cholesterol can block up your blood vessels. This can lead to health conditions like atherosclerosis which can cause heart attacks, heart diseases, and/or strokes. Lifestyle choices like consuming a diet full of trans or saturated fats, smoking, and/or consuming large amounts of alcohol can all contribute to higher LDL cholesterol levels. Other factors like genetics or family history could also cause high LDL cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol levels are mainly controlled by diet.

Unlike LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol carries the LDL cholesterol out of the blood vessels. As such, having a higher level of HDL cholesterol is good for the body. HDL cholesterol level is mainly controlled by exercise.

If you have concerns about your cholesterol levels, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Additionally, to ensure that your cholesterol levels are within a healthy range, you should do annual physical and blood tests.

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4 Ways to Decrease Low-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels

Low-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 35% of all Americans have high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as LDL or the bad kind of cholesterol.  This is a problem because a high level of LDL cholesterol can cause a buildup of fat in your arteries, eventually blocking blood flow and cause a heart attack or stroke. As such, about one-third of all heart disease cases in the United States comes from problems regarding cholesterol levels.

Lowering LDL cholesterol levels is important in reducing the risk of heart disease. Below are some ways one can lower their LDL cholesterol levels.

Dieting

Going on a diet is typically the most common way to lower LDL cholesterol. Not only is it less expensive than going on medications, dieting correctly can also provide other health benefits. The diet typically includes keeping track of your daily intake of cholesterol to ensure it doesn’t go over 300 mg, cutting out saturated or trans fat, picking whole grain options over other options like white bread or sourdough, and eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Some studies also suggest that moderate intake of wine can help make your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, also known as the good kind of cholesterol, rise.

Exercising

Exercising regularly – such as running, walking, or weight-lifting – is also important if you want to lower your LDL cholesterol levels. Most doctors or physicians suggest exercising at least three times a week for more than 20 minutes.

It is important to note that if you are dealing with other health problems besides high cholesterol, you should consult your doctor or physician before beginning your exercise regime.

Taking Medications

If dieting or exercising isn’t helping much with controlling your LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor or physician may prescribe medication for you. A drug that is common in helping lower LDL cholesterol is called statin. Statin helps lower cholesterol by restraining the enzymes in our bodies that are responsible for naturally producing the LDL cholesterol. It can be found in medicines such as Lipitor, Crestor, and Zocor. These medicines are known to lower LDL cholesterol levels by 20% to 55%.

Side effects of taking medications with statin can include muscle aches and some liver problems. Compared to the heart disease risk that you may experience with a high LDL cholesterol level, however, taking medication is well worth the risk of these potential side effects. However, it is important to note that just because you are taking medication to lower your LDL cholesterol level doesn’t mean that you should continue to consume a diet that is high in unhealthy fats. If you are still keeping an unhealthy diet, taking statins will not be as effective in lowering your LDL cholesterol level.

Other less common medications can be taken if statin isn’t working to lower your cholesterol level. A drug called bile acid resins is something you can take if statin isn’t working. Bile acid resins work by stopping cholesterol from being absorbed in the body. It has reduced LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 30% in a number of people. Other drugs like fibric acid or niacin can also be prescribed as an alternative medicine to statin. Both fibric acid and niacin help not only to lower LDL cholesterol levels but also increases HDL cholesterol levels.

Alternative Treatments

Alternate ways to lower your LDL cholesterol levels are not usually recommended by doctors or other health professionals. However, some of those who are trying to keep track of their high cholesterol levels have claimed that these alternative treatments have worked for them. If you do choose to go with some of these alternative treatments, it should be noted that you should do it alongside the traditional ways to maintain your cholesterol that are discussed above. Never rely on these alternative treatments only.

One of the most popular alternative ways to maintain your cholesterol level is taking garlic supplements. Studies have shown that these supplements can help lower one’s total cholesterol levels — but only in the short term. Once you stop taking these supplements, it is very likely that your cholesterol will go back to its original levels prior to taking the supplements. It is important to also note that garlic can act as a blood thinner. As such, you shouldn’t take these supplements if you are on blood-thinning medication or have health conditions like hemophilia, which can cause uncontrolled bleeding.

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High-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Overview: Causes and Risks

High-density lipoprotein cholesterol

High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol, is typically classified as good cholesterol. HDL cholesterol delivers the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol — typically classified as bad cholesterol — to the liver where the LDL cholesterol is then broken down. This helps prevents the buildup of fat within one’s arteries.When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the body, the LDL cholesterol will build up within one’s blood vessel lining over time. This can cause a block in the blood flow, which can cause things like heart attacks, strokes, or coronary artery disease.

Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream thanks to lipoproteins.About 30% of one’s blood cholesterol should be carried by HDL. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor might tell you to lower your total cholesterol in general. However, it is important to raise one’s HDL cholesterol as some believe that HDL cholesterol helps lower the risk of heart attacks, heart diseases, or strokes.

Causes of Low HDL Cholesterol

Because HDL cholesterol is known as the good cholesterol, having a higher level of HDL cholesterol is actually good for you. Having low levels of HDL cholesterol is typically caused by factors that could cause a rise in LDL cholesterol. These factors include smoking, not exercising, constant or excessive alcohol consumption, and keeping a diet that has a high level of saturated or trans fats. Other factors like a family history of heart problems, a high blood pressure, and/or coronary heart disease can also cause an imbalance of HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.

Genetics or family history of high cholesterol can also cause a decrease in HDL cholesterol levels and an increase in LDL cholesterol levels. Since LDL cholesterol is produced naturally via the liver and intestine, some people inherit genes that make them produce too much LDL cholesterol naturally.

Typically, those who are female have a higher level of HDL cholesterol because estrogen helps to raise HDL cholesterol.

Risks of having Low HDL Cholesterol

Ultimately, the biggest risk of having low HDL cholesterol levels is the same risk as having high LDL levels: heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, and/ or stroke. The best way to reduce these risks is to check with your doctor or physician and attend annual physicals and blood draws.

Depending on your medical history, your family history, and your lifestyle, your doctor or physician may suggest different ways to help you increase your HDL cholesterol levels. Most of the time prescribed medication along with a change in diet or lifestyle can help one control their HDL cholesterol levels as well as LDL cholesterol levels.

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High Cholesterol Overview: Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol can typically be found in animal fat — about 20% of the cholesterol we obtain are from the animal fats in our diets. However, cholesterol is not just obtained through food. Our bodies also produce cholesterol normally through our liver and intestines. As a result, if we ingest too much animal fat — or too much cholesterol — the body will find it difficult to control this amount of cholesterol in addition to the cholesterol the liver and intestines produce. So how does one know if they have high cholesterol?

Symptoms of High LDL Cholesterol

High cholesterol symptoms are typically vague and thus is not easily spotted until something devastating like a heart attack or stroke occurs. Some symptoms of high cholesterol are dizziness, shortness of breath, or a general feeling of illness. Besides this, it is typically impossible to tell if one has high cholesterol besides annual physicals and blood draws.

The best way to keep track of your cholesterol level is to attend annual physicals as well as blood draws. This will help you and your doctors keep track of your cholesterol and prevent heart attack or strokes caused by high cholesterol. It can also help you detect if you are at risk and allows you to make lifestyle changes before you suffer from a heart attack or stroke.

Treatment for High LDL Cholesterol

If you have too much cholesterol and need to keep your cholesterol levels controlled, you will typically need to undergo some changes to your lifestyle. This includes reading up about high cholesterol, avoiding foods that contain saturated fats, and learning to decipher the Nutrition Facts typically labeled on most food products. If you smoke, then it is highly recommended that you quit. Exercising at least three times a week for about 20 minutes or more will also help greatly in cholesterol control.

Sometimes, taking on a specialized diet that helps lower cholesterol may be necessary. This won’t be too terribly hard, however, as a number of good foods — such as oatmeal, salmon, almonds, and olive oil — can help to lower cholesterol.

Additionally, your doctor could prescribe drugs that are meant to lower your cholesterol. It is important to take the medication as directed to ensure that your cholesterol levels are within control. As mentioned above, it is also important to have your physicals and blood drawn annually to keep track of your cholesterol. This is especially critical when you want to treat and manage high cholesterol.

Causes of High Cholesterol

There is no definite cause of high cholesterol, instead, it is usually made up of various factors. These factors include a diet that consists of high levels of fat, not exercising, smoking, consistent and/or high level of alcohol intake, having high blood pressure, having a low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level, having diabetes, and/or having a family history of coronary heart disease. High cholesterol can also be a result of genetics.

Cholesterol, when maintained at its regular body, is necessary for a healthy, working body. Cholesterol, along with another type of fat called triglycerides, is responsible for providing the body with energy. However, too much of these fats can cause arteries to become clogged and cause a heart attack or stroke. Of course, the body will typically try and override the build-up of fat, but there will come a time when the body can no longer override this build-up if one continues an unhealthy lifestyle. When this occurs, some serious health risks can surface. It is important to keep track of your cholesterol levels and maintain a somewhat healthy lifestyle.

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The Symptoms of High Cholesterol

Symptoms of High Cholesterol

One of the amplest substances that our body produces naturally is cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that has integral roles in the body from producing hormones to breaking down fats. Although cholesterol, in general, gets a bad reputation, there are, in fact, two types of cholesterol groups (there is a total of five lipoprotein groups) that are usually topics of conversation: LDL and HDL.

LDL cholesterol stands for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is what is known as bad cholesterol. HDL, however, stands for high-density lipoprotein, which is “good” cholesterol. Too much of the former and too little of the latter are both problematic. When high cholesterol becomes a problem, this is typically due to high LDL cholesterol levels and low HDL cholesterol levels.

Does High Cholesterol Have Symptoms?

The bad news is, having high cholesterol does not come with any symptoms. As the high amount of LDL cholesterol in the body is at work to block arteries, HDL works to counteract its action, but sometimes the LDL intake is too much for the body to protect itself.  

There are over 70 million Americans with high cholesterol today. Since high cholesterol is asymptomatic and can only be unearthed by blood tests, many people remain unaware of their cholesterol levels until they have a heart event or develop a heart disease. Getting your cholesterol levels checked after the age of 20 regularly is paramount.  Otherwise, some people do not become aware of their high cholesterol until they are faced with a serious heart complication.

Chest pain is one of the signs of having high LDL cholesterol, however. Some heed the signs and consult a physician, but if they are not informed about the risks and symptoms, many may not associate this pain with high cholesterol and neglect to consult a doctor.  

Controlling High Cholesterol

People who are overweight, have poor dietary habits, and lack physical activity are typically at risk of getting high cholesterol, so making lifestyle changes is essential to preventing and controlling your cholesterol levels.

Regular exercise and multivitamins/supplement high in antioxidants can boost your metabolism and promote cardiovascular health, so they are also recommended for treating high cholesterol.

High cholesterol can narrow the arteries with deposits, obstructing blood flow. So cardiovascular activities are an excellent way to improve blood flow as well.

Heart disease and severe health complications are inevitable with high cholesterol without becoming moderately physically active and modifying your diet. Doctors recommend at least a few times of 30-minute exercise per week.

Limiting your alcohol intake, giving up smoking or moderating your consumption if you can’t, and following your doctor’s directions and treatment plan thoroughly are imperative to live a normal and healthy life with high cholesterol.

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What you Need to Know About Cholesterol

What you Need to Know About Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance that our body naturally produces for a variety of vital functions in the liver, kidneys, and intestinal tract. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is present in all cells found in all cells of the body, which our bodies need for digestion of foods and vitamins. The body produces enough of cholesterol on its own, but we all also take in cholesterol from the food we consume. So here’s what you need to know about cholesterol.

When we talk about high bad cholesterol, also known as LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol, this is often caused by a high intake of dietary cholesterol. In contrast, HDL cholesterol refers to high-density cholesterol, and having a high HDL cholesterol level is as important as keeping your LDL cholesterol low.

High LDL cholesterol leads to deposits that can block the arteries and lead to heart disease and complications such as coronary artery disease. HDL cholesterol works to break down LDL cholesterol deposits in the arteries by transporting them to the liver.

The primary cause of high cholesterol in most cases are poor lifestyle choices such as a diet high in trans and saturated fats, too much stress, and smoking. Over time, high cholesterol can narrow the arteries and can result in blood clots and blood vessel ruptures.

Cholesterol Levels and Diagnosis

Having high cholesterol levels is not accompanied by symptoms, so the only way to know if your cholesterol levels are not ideal is by getting a blood test or once a cholesterol-related health complication arises. In some cases, people find out about their high cholesterol when they develop certain conditions such as coronary artery disease, pancreatitis, and stroke.  

Nonetheless, as high cholesterol levels can lead to the narrowing of the arteries and obstruct passageways, some may experience symptoms such as heart events, pain in the legs (especially during activities that require exertion), and blood vessel ruptures, which can result in heart failure. Yellowish discoloration of the skin, particularly around the eyes, is also a common symptom of atherosclerosis (coronary artery disease).

The Importance of a High Cholesterol Diet

One’s diet is usually at the front center of their problematic cholesterol levels, so dietary changes is a significant part of preventing and managing high cholesterol.  

In order to lower LDL cholesterol, you must cut out trans and saturated fats, processed foods and meats, full-fat dairy foods, and refined carbohydrates and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and fiber.

Giving up smoking and regular exercise also lower LDL cholesterol and consequently reduce your risk of heart disease. Nicotine results in an overproduction of lipids in the bloodstream, so cigarettes can easily contribute to dangerous cholesterol levels. Experts recommend exercising at least three times a week, preferably a cardiovascular activity such as speed-walking or jogging.

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Treating HDL Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol

Even though it is usually discussed as high cholesterol, there are lipoprotein groups. LDL cholesterol is what is known as bad cholesterol and is an abbreviation for low-density lipoprotein. HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is known as good cholesterol meaning low-density lipoproteins. Cholesterol levels are closely associated with heart health.

Every single HDL cholesterol is a tiny particle but also dense, hence the name. When medical professionals talk about high cholesterol and lowering cholesterol, it, in fact, means keeping your LDL cholesterol low and HDL high.  

Keeping LDL low and HDL high prevents heart diseases and other health complications. LDL cholesterol is problematic because as the body already produces it naturally, when too much of it builds up in the bloodstream, this accumulation of plaque (LDL cholesterol bits) leads to the narrowing of the blood vessels, which can obstruct passageways and result in coronary artery disease.

HDL particles are the good guys who clean up after the LDL cholesterol to transport the artery blocking deposits to the liver so they can be decomposed.

Standard HDL Cholesterol Treatment

Increasing your HDL level even by 1 mg/dL can make a difference and lower your risk of heart attack.  A 1 mg/dL increase can reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease by almost 4%. Of course, realistically, experts recommend men with low HDL levels aim for 45 mg/dL and women for 35 mg/dL, especially heart disease runs in their family.

– Niacin is the most typically used over-the-counter medication to increase HDL as it also lowers LDL. Your doctor can also recommend prescription-strength niacin. Gemfibrozil and fibrates also work to up HDL cholesterol. Statins are also very standard and stop the process of a cholesterol-forming substance.

Lifestyle Changes

Heart disease is still the number one killer in the United States, so having healthy cholesterol levels is vital. Lowering bad cholesterol demands lifestyle changes, and HDL cholesterol is not that different.  In addition to going on cholesterol medications, your doctor will also recommend you make certain lifestyle modifications. One of the most important ones is dietary changes. A cholesterol-friendly diet that keeps LDL low and HDL high and is devoid of trans and saturated fats, full-fat dairy foods, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates and high in fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich foods, fish, lean high-protein meats, and legumes.

Regular exercise is also essential to a healthy heart and cholesterol levels. Activities like jogging, walking, and swimming are excellent options to promote cardiovascular health. Finally, smoking and excess alcohol intake also contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease, so cutting them out or limiting your consumption is highly recommended.

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Treating Cholesterol

Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a prominent topic of conversation today because of heart diseases and complications associated with them such as cardiac infarction and atherosclerosis.

For instance, atherosclerosis can even lead to a stroke if the blood vessels in the brain get affected. While the condition used to primarily affect the elderly, younger people are increasingly at a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis. Most heart conditions and complications have one culprit in common: high cholesterol.

It is typically caused by detrimental lifestyle choices like a high consumption of unhealthy fats, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking. The good news is high cholesterol can be improved with medications, but making lifestyle changes are also a big part of preventing heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

High Cholesterol (LDL Cholesterol) Symptoms

It has no symptoms and can only be diagnosed with tests or appearance of a health complication related to poor cholesterol levels. The risk factors play a significant role as being overweight, a smoker, and not being physically active could be warning signs. If it leads to atherosclerosis, then there may be symptoms to look out for. Chest pain, leg pain, fatigue, and breathlessness are some atherosclerosis symptoms.

Treating High Cholesterol

The first step in managing cholesterol levels is making dietary changes to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and stabilize your good cholesterol (HDL). Eliminating foods that are high in trans and saturated fats and finding low-fat alternatives to your typical dietary habits is key.

You should cut out limit your intake red, processed meats like bacon, sausage, full-fat dairy products, as well as foods that are high in refined sugar. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy foods, and legumes is vital to keeping levels under control.

You should also discuss your regular physical activity options with your physician and make sure that regular workout is a part of your regimen.  

A lot of people can improve their levels and overall health with lifestyle changes without medications, but if needed, drugs like statins, niacin, and aspirin are also used to lower LDL cholesterol. Statins prevent the process of chemical-forming substances, and aspirin can prevent blood clot formation. Niacin, on the other hand, reduces LDL cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol.

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