HDL and LDL cholesterol: what you should know

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4 years ago

HDL and LDL cholesterol have become terms that we all know, even if we are not doctors. This is so because of the importance they have for our health.

Talking about HDL and LDL cholesterol is common for heart patients. Anyone who has had a heart attack knows that they must raise some blood values and decrease others to protect their heart.

However, not only cardiology patients are familiar with the terms. Prevention campaigns worldwide have paid off and more and more people understand how cholesterol works and what effect it has on the arteries.

Both HDL and LDL cholesterol are parts, or portions, of the total cholesterol in the body. In themselves, they are fatty substances that cells require for metabolism. It is not something that we should not have, but we need to control.

According to what we can measure in a blood test, cholesterol is divided into:

  • HDL: is the fat that cleanses the arteries, without clogging them. This is what is called "good" cholesterol.

  • LDL: This is the variety that is deposited on the arterial walls, creating danger. This is called ‘bad’ cholesterol.

  • Triglycerides: This is a particular fat in cells and blood that varies greatly with the person's diet.

What we call total cholesterol is the sum of HDL and LDL cholesterol.

What is HDL cholesterol?

HDL and LDL cholesterol are not the same, as we have already anticipated. The so-called 'good' cholesterol or High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is one that carries portions of fat from different parts of the body to the liver, as if it were cleaning the arteries.

In medicine, this value is attempted to rise, since a higher proportion of HDL ensures better cardiovascular work. Contrary to popular belief, this is the case of a cholesterol that must be increased.

Unfortunately, the use of certain medications due to chronic pathologies favors the decrease of this substance; It is almost inevitable for someone taking beta-blockers, for example. It is also affected by benzodiazepines and progestins, among others.

HDL and LDL cholesterol are approached with similar measures since, in general, what increases the "good" cholesterol usually lowers the "bad" cholesterol. Still, tobacco is known to affect HDL more than LDL.

What is LDL cholesterol?

LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein, commonly known as "bad" cholesterol. It is associated with damage because it tends to deposit on the inner walls of the arteries and obstructs blood flow.

Arteriosclerosis has an ally in this cholesterol. The atheroma plaques have fat in their conformation that is carried there by this lipoprotein. Cardiologists insist on lowering their biochemical values to prevent heart attacks and angina pectoris.

Ultimately, a higher LDL cholesterol value will be linked to a lower oxygen flow to the vital organs. When the atheroma plaque ruptures, after it has reached a breaking point that forces it, acute events occur.

In terms of laboratory figures, it is considered:

  • Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter of LDL is clearly healthy.

  • Up to 130 milligrams per deciliter would be acceptable.

  • Above that level we are at risk, which increases to become very high above 190.

Raise and lower HDL and LDL cholesterol

Certain preventive measures can be taken to increase HDL cholesterol and decrease LDL. This is not exclusive for cardiac patients, but should become routine for anyone, with a view to reducing cardiovascular risk.

The key points where to act are the following:

  • Weight control: an overweight person, in addition to the cardiological risk of obesity, is exposed to increase their LDL cholesterol. The good news is that lowering your body mass index also causes lowering of “bad” cholesterol.

  • Exercise: Physical activity, unlike sedentary lifestyle, increases HDL cholesterol. Sport consumes body fat to generate the necessary energy that the muscles demand. These removes circulating cholesterol from the arteries, contributing to its cleaning.

  • Healthy food: diet is important in cholesterol control, but not determining, as previously thought. Studies on the Mediterranean diet suggest that the nutritional balance stimulates the work of HDL cholesterol and makes it more efficient in its transport of fats. Likewise, excessive consumption of saturated fats raises LDL cholesterol above acceptable limits.

  • Tobacco: Among many negative effects of smoking, one of them is the reduction of HDL.

Control cholesterol to live better

The quality of life is affected by sedentary lifestyle and the ultra-processed food we eat, among other factors. Our rhythms of existence seem contrary to good organic health.

Therefore, we have to make an effort to change our habits, increasing HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL. In this way, we will live longer and better.

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4 years ago


This article is very interesting and educative. It discussed the meanings of HDL and LDL, causes, symptoms and prevention. Thanks.

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4 years ago

Thanks for your visit and comment, cholesterol is something to keep in mind because it is an oversight and can really be fatal.

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4 years ago