High-density lipoprotein: Causes Treatments & Risks for women

What is HDL Cholesterol?

HDL stands for high-density lipoproteins. It is called the “good” cholesterol as it carries cholesterol from different parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then gets rid of the cholesterol out of your body.HDL protects you against heart disease via carrying the extra cholesterol out of your arteries, which lowers your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The more HDL you have got, the higher. The workout can also increase your good cholesterol.

HDL is the smallest and densest of the lipoproteins, containing the highest percentage of protein to cholesterol. In a normal healthy person, HDL carries about 20-30% of total plasma cholesterol, while LDL (low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) carries approximately 70%. HDL is important for the synthesis of steroid hormones however it is more famously known for its defensive function towards cardiovascular disease.

Reverse cholesterol transport

It is the method by which HDL removes extra cholesterol from tissues and arteries, and returns it back to the liver for recycling and excretion, interrupting the process of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) at key stages. Its protecting properties consist of anti-inflammatory activity, wherein it protects artery walls against LDL plus an anti- oxidative activity, which in combination, may directly slow atherosclerosis. Men and women have similar HDL levels however after puberty these stages decrease in men, and remain lower than those in women for all next age groups. Men also tend to have smaller sized particles compared to women. Current recommendations for HDL levels are as follows:-

In men, HDL levels must be above 1mmol/l and in women, HDL levels must be above 1.2mmol/l.

What are LDL and HDL Cholesterol?

High HDL levels:-

High HDL levels may be because of secondary causes which include excessive alcohol consumption, exercise and medicinal drug such as oral estrogen substitute. People with a Japanese ancestry are observed to have high HDL levels because of a genetic deficiency of a protein, the cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP). Very high levels of HDL had been, reported to promote the development of atherosclerosis in some cases, and the mechanism of this effect is not clear.

It is important to rule out secondary causes but also to decide whether or not a high level of HDL can be due to an inherited cause by looking at family records. A family history of longevity is reassuring whereas considered one of the early vascular diseases may additionally prompt referral to a specialist to decide if the high level of HDL is relevant to this and whether or not other family members must be, examined.

Low levels of HDL:-

Secondary causes include certain medicinal drugs, smoking, obesity, insulin resistant situations, and unique genetic mutations inclusive of Tangier disease. Medications which can reduce HDL ranges consist of beta blockers, thiazide diuretics, androgens, progestogens and anabolic steroids. In smoking, a chemical found in cigarettes, referred to as acrolein stops HDL from transporting LDL to the liver, leading to higher overall total cholesterol levels.

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High-density lipoprotein


Stopping smoking can increase HDL levels via up to 10%. Insulin resistant conditions including the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes have a couple of mild abnormalities in lipids, together with a pattern of high triglyceride levels, high LDL levels, and low HDL levels. LDL particles have a tendency to be more toxic to artery linings and reduce the useful effects of HDL. Tangier disease is a disorder that causes a complete absence or severe deficiency of HDL levels and LDL levels also are usually, reduced. A low HDL level is thought to accelerate the development of atherosclerosis because of an, impaired reverse cholesterol transport and the absence of its other protective effects.

According to the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, HDL cholesterol levels of less than 35 mg/dl are, considered too low. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol is equally important in determining risk for heart disease and should be less than 5. Other institutions recommend higher HDL levels for cardiovascular benefits. Causes of low levels of HDL cholesterol include genetics, a lack of exercise and dietary factors.

What are the risks for women?

Elevated levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, were proven to be, related to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in lots of epidemiologic studies. It has also been, discovered in many studies that women have higher HDL levels of cholesterol than do men, and this has been, hypothesized to be one of the reasons women have a lower incidence of coronary disease.

Before menopause, women normally have a tendency to have higher HDL-levels of cholesterol than men — averaging 55 mg/dL in women and 45 mg/dL in men. However, after menopause, these protective levels of HDL cholesterol can drop. For women over age 70, HDL cholesterol–not total cholesterol — more clearly identifies those at higher risk of coronary heart disease; but, HDL cholesterol is generally no longer a direct goal of therapy, as LDL cholesterol is. Women who are at high risks, such as people with established coronary heart disease, must keep in mind treating HDL cholesterol. However, women are usually, encouraged to make lifestyle changes — along with quitting smoking, accomplishing a regular physical activity, losing weight, and avoiding excess carbohydrates — to raise HDL cholesterol.

How to treat low HDL?

Your levels of cholesterol are an important measure of heart health. For HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, higher levels are better, if you have high LDL and low HDL cholesterol levels, your doctor will possibly focus on decreasing your LDL cholesterol first. Medicinal drugs known as statins — including atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatin (Zocor) — are the most common treatment for high LDL cholesterol.

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Make healthy lifestyle:-

HDL levels are normally, decreased in human beings who’ve metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that include obesity, increased blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. In addition to helping you lose weight, an increased physical activity can lower your triglycerides while increasing your HDL levels. Benefits can be, seen with as little as 60 mins of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week.

In terms of weight loss plan, try and keep away from Trans fats, as they are able to increase LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol levels. Meals, prepared with shortening, which includes cakes and cookies, often contain Trans fat, as do most fried foods and some margarine. Moderate use of alcohol has been, linked with higher degrees of HDL cholesterol. For healthful adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to 2 drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. Too much alcohol can cause weight gain and may increase your blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

Medicines can improve or lower HDL:-

HDL levels are once in a while improved by capsules used to lower LDL and triglyceride levels — consisting of prescription niacin; fibrates which include gemfibrozil (Lopid); and certain statins, particularly simvastatin (Zocor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor). However, clinical trials for several drugs; specially, designed to boom HDL levels have been, halted early because they failed to reduce the risk of heart attacks. Drugs containing testosterone and other anabolic steroids can artificially lower your HDL levels of cholesterol. Avoiding those drugs may additionally help boom your HDL numbers


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