What is Cholesterol?
By Cici Sheeks
LDL and HDL
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is considered the "bad" cholesterol because it can contribute to the buildup of plaque, a thick deposit of minerals which can contribute to blocked and weak arteries. If too much of this LDL forms in a narrow artery, it can lead to a patient having a heart-attack or stroke because blood-flow and proper circulation will be obstructed. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is considered "good" cholesterol because it helps remove LDL from clogged arteries. It picks up LDL and takes it back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed out of the body.
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Function and Structure of LDL and HDL
The function for both LDL and HDL is to transport cholesterol, but they carry it to different places in the body.
Monitoring of LDL and HDL Concentrations
LDL and HDL levels are tested to measure a patient's risk of getting heart disease. Doctors monitor levels of LDL in the bloodstream because too much can result in the buildup of plaque, which has the potential to lead to heart disease. They also monitor levels of HDL because it's important to have enough in the bloodstream.
Along with LDL and HDL, doctors also test for levels of triglycerides because too many can result in too much body fat or obesity.