Overview of cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins)
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the body cells. The liver helps in its synthesis and it is also found in few food sources. The body needs some amount of cholesterol to function properly. However, too much of it causes coronary artery disease.
It is mainly of two types:
LDL or low-density lipoproteins:
It is known as the “bad” cholesterol because its high buildup causes blockage in arteries.
HDL or high-density lipoproteins:
It is known as the “good” cholesterol because it helps in carrying cholesterol from other parts back to the liver which further removes it.
Can high LDL impose any risks for other diseases?
High LDL levels lead to plaque formation in arteries and lead to atherosclerosis. Coronary artery disease is the next to happen in series after plaque buildup. High DL might also cause angina, heart attack, and stroke in extreme cases.
How can I get to know my LDL level?
A blood test can help in letting you know your cholesterol values. How often you should get it done depends on your age, family history, and if any risk factors are involved due to some other diseases.
Following are few general recommendations:
The test must be done every 5 years however some children heart issues and stroke after birth so the test can be done earlier.
For a person of age 19 or younger:
The first test, done between the 9 – 11 years of age. Another must be done again after 5 years.
For people of age 20 and above:
Young adults may get the test-done every 5 years.
Men from 45 to 65 years of age and women from 55 to 65 years of age must get the test done every 1 to 2 years.
Which factors affect my LDL level?
Saturated fat and cholesterol content in the food you eat eventually cause an increase in your blood cholesterol level. So a wise and cholesterol-friendly diet needs to be, followed.
Being overweight increases risks for high LDL level, and further lowers your HDL level. It even causes an increase in total cholesterol level. So considering a weight loss plan will be ideal to combat cholesterol issues.
A potential lack of regular exercise increases weight and LDL levels. So opt for routine workout sessions or simple daily exercises to make you free from cholesterol troubles.
Cigarette smoking affects badly over the entire body. It lowers the good cholesterol or HDL which helps in LD removal from the arteries. So if you have fewer HDL levels that might even add to the trouble by causing an increase of furthermore LDL levels.
Age, Race, and Gender:
Usually increasing age leads to the rise in cholesterol levels. But conditions like menopause which affects women and causes decrease in total cholesterol levels than men of same age. Few races like Asian and Afro American tend to exhibit high cholesterol levels than others.
Genetics or heredity:
Your genes play a lead role in determining the amount of cholesterol the body produces. High cholesterol can run in families. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a type of inherited disease of high blood cholesterol.
Few medicines including blood pressure medicines, steroids, and AIDS medicines have the tendency to raise LDL levels in the body.
- Other medical conditions. Diseases like chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV affects cholesterol levels and raises it to high values.
What is the ideal, recommended range of LDL level?
Following is the recommended range for LDL levels although slight variations might occur as reference range might vary from lab to lab.
Less than 100 mg/d of LDL falls under the category of optimal range
It needs to be between 100-129 mg/dL falls under the category of near-optimal or above the optimal range
LDL between 130-159 mg/dL falls under the category of borderline high range
Doactors prefer LDL between 160-189 mg/dL falls under the category of high range
LDL of 190 mg/dL and above falls under the category of very high range
What can I do to lower my LDL level?
Mainly this is, done in two ways:
Therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC):
TLC constitutes 3 parts which are as follows:
A healthy and heart-friendly diet plans by limiting the amount of saturated and trans-fats in the meals you eat. For example, cultivating an eating plan which lowers your cholesterol levels by including therapeutic lifestyle changes diet and DASH diet plans.
If you are overweight or obese try considering losing some weight. It can help in lowering your LDL cholesterol levels along with making you more fit and active.
Everyone should do daily minimum 20 to 30 minutes of regular workout. Exercise can include any interesting hobby of dance, Zumba, cycling, swimming or simply walking but on a regular routine basis.
The lifestyle changes alone cannot help in lowering your cholesterol levels enough. So you must consult a physician and discuss medication options. Several types of medications are available to lower cholesterol including statins. Your physician will be the best person to prescribe you a medicine as per your condition and keeping your disease history in mind. Even after starting with the drug therapy for LDL you must continue with the lifestyle changes and maintain them to receive benefits in long-term.
Also in some cases of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) treatment, given in the form of lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment actually uses a filtering machine to remove excess LDL cholesterol from the blood. Later, the machine returns the blood back to the person after removing LDL from it.
LDL is the bad cholesterol and as its name, it is not good for health. It causes many heart and cardiac disorders. However, where few lifestyle changes can help in its prevention on the other hand following proper drug therapy along with good lifestyle habits can help in keeping high levels of control.