Cholesterol

Alyssa Frischenmyer

Introduction

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in all cells of the body. Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream on packages called lipoproteins. There are two kinds of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the body: LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and HDL (high-density lipoproteins).

What are LDL and HDL?

LDL cholesterol is called "bad" cholesterol. A high LDL level causes buildup of cholesterol through your arteries. HDL cholesterol is called "good" cholesterol. This is because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. The liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.

LDL and HDL Structural and Functional Difference

The main structural difference between LDL ad HDL is their compositions. Approximately 50% of the weight of an LDL particle is cholesterol and only 25% is protein. HDL particles, on the other hand, consist of 20% cholesterol by weight and 50% protein. Both LDL and HDL proteins transport cholesterol in the blood, but the main functional difference between the two is they deliver cholesterol to different parts of the body. LDL takes cholesterol to the cells and HDL takes cholesterol to the liver to be disposed of.

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Why do doctors monitor the concentrations of LDL and HDL in patients' blood?

LDL and HDL are monitored during a blood test because they are used to help decrease the patient's risk of heart disease.

Concentrations of LDL and HDL Associated with Heart Disease

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

Other Monitored Molecules

  • Triglycerides
  • Total Cholesterol

Cholesterol Tests

The results of a cholesterol test can either tell you that you have a risk of heart complications or your heart is healthy.
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Changing LDL and HDL Levels

There are several ways to change you cholesterol levels. You can get more physical activity, lose an appropriate amount of weight, and eat a healthy diet.

Intake of Unsaturated, Saturated, and Trans Fats Affect on Cholesterol Levels and Health

Too much unsaturated, saturated and trans fats can cause a person's LDL levels to increase. This could lead to arterial hardening. A person can suffer from a heart attack or stroke.