Lauren McIntire

What is cholesterol?
a compound of the sterol type found in most body tissues, including the blood and the nerves. Cholesterol and its derivatives are important constituents of cell membranes and precursors of other steroid compounds, but high concentrations in the blood (mainly derived from animal fats in the diet) are thought to promote atherosclerosis.

What are LDL and HDL ?
The two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol to and from cells are low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, and high-density lipoprotein, orHDL. LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol, along with one fifth of your triglyceride level, make up your total cholesterol count, which can be determined through a blood test.

How do LDL and HDL differ structurally & functionally?

As a lipid, cholesterol does not mix with water and cannot travel freely in your blood. Because of this, your body must pair cholesterol with proteins, making a complex called a lipoprotein, to transport cholesterol through your bloodstream to cells that need it for various functions. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) are two types of lipoproteins in your body that carry cholesterol -- respectively referred to as LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. Although LDL and HDL both play roles in transporting cholesterol within your body, they have very different structures, functions and effects on your health.

Why do doctors monitor the concentrations of LDL and HDL?

Both HDL and LDL carry cholesterol through the bloodstream, but they have very different effects in the body (and different ramifications for health), which is why both are measured to assess overall heart health. LDL carries cholesterol from the liver toward the body cells, HDL conversely, carries cholesterol away from the body cells and back toward the liver. From there, it is eliminated via the digestive tract. It’s important for doctors to measure both HDL and LDL in order to know whether more cholesterol is being carried to or from the cells.

How are the concentrations of LDL and HDL associated with the risk for heart disease?

High levels of LDL cholesterol lead to atherosclerosis increasing the risk of heart attack and ischemic stroke. HDL cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease as it carries cholesterol away from the blood stream.

What other molecules in a patient's blood are monitored along with HDL and LDL?


- Triglycerides

- and Cholesterol

What do the results of a cholesterol test mean? How do patients interpret each value?

Your test report will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood. Your total cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol are among numerous factors your doctor can use to predict your lifetime or 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke.

what can patients do to change the levels of LDL and HDL in their blood

- get a blood test

- eat a healthy diet

-maintain a healthy weight

- exercise regularly

- don't smoke

How does intake of unsaturated saturated and trans fat affect cholesterol levels and overall health?

Replacing the saturated fat in your diet with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and limiting your saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of your daily calories. Since trans fat is the most unhealthy type of fat for your body, keep your intake of it as low as possible. Cholesterol is not a type of fat, but, like saturated and trans fats, it can increase your LDL cholesterol. Aim for no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day.

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