By Preston Pegram and Andrew Fold

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.
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What is LDL cholesterol and what is HDL cholesterol?

LDL stands for Low-Density Lipoprotein. LDL cholesterol is usually considered the bad cholesterol, because a high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries.
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How do LDL and HDL differ structurally and functionally?

The main structural difference between LDL and HDL is their compositions. About half of the weight of an LDL particle is cholesterol and only one-fourth is protein. High-density lipoprotein particles consist of 20 percent cholesterol by weight and half protein. Since protein is denser than fat, HDL particles are more dense than LDL particles.

The main functional difference between the two is that they deliver cholesterol to different parts of your body. LDL carries cholesterol to the whole body, while HDL carries cholesterol away from the heart to other organs and eventually back to the liver.

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

Doctors monitor these factors because their levels in the blood help doctors better evaluate a person’s health status and determine whether a person is at risk for cardiovascular disease.
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How are concentrations of LDL and HDL associated with the risk for heart disease and associated disorders?

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

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

  • Very low-density lipoprotein, whose main purpose is to distribute the triglyceride produced by your liver. A high VLDL cholesterol level can cause the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Triglycerides, which are a type of fat the body uses to store energy and give energy to muscles. Only small amounts are found in the blood. Having a high triglyceride level along with a high LDL cholesterol may increase your chances of having heart disease.
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What do the results of a cholesterol test mean? How do patients interpret each value

When you receive your Cholesterol test levels, you will get a number that indicates the total concentration of Cholesterol in your blood.

Ranges for your total Cholesterol level are:

  • High risk: 240 mg/dL and above
  • Borderline high risk: 200-239 mg/dL
  • Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL


  • High risk: Less than 40 mg/dL


  • High Risk: More than 190 mg/dL

Triglycerides:Very high risk:

  • 500 mg/dL and above
  • High risk: 200-499 mg/dL
  • Borderline high risk: 150-199 mg/dL
  • Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL

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What can you do to change the levels of LDL and HDL in their blood?

To lower LDL levels, reduce the amount of fast food, processed food, and dairy food, because they are high in LDL cholesterol and other bad things.

To Raise HDL levels:

  • Get active
  • Lose extra weight
  • Choose better fats
  • Alcohol in moderation
  • Stop smoking
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How does intake of unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats affect cholesterol levels and overall health?

Saturated Fat: The majority of saturated fat comes from animal products such as beef, lamb, pork poultry with skin, butter, cream, and cheese. All of these foods also contain dietary cholesterol.

Unsaturated Fat: Unsaturated fats may help improve your blood cholesterol when you use them in place of saturated and trans fats.

Trans Fat: Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Trans fat are fats, created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.

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