The 3 Main Types of Cholesterol
There are three main types of cholesterol, affecting your health in different ways.
A cholesterol blood or lipid test measures your body’s cholesterol. The test focuses on LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance – otherwise known as a lipid – found in your blood. Other sources are found in some foods, including eggs, meat, and dairy. Although you may have heard that high cholesterol is bad, some cholesterol is essential for your health. Healthy cholesterol assists your body in making hormones and vitamin D. However, it’s crucial to understand why certain types of cholesterol can lead to health problems, such as an increased risk of heart disease.
About a quarter to a third of cholesterol found in the blood is HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein). HDL cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol and high levels of HDL cholesterol have shown some evidence to protect against heart attacks. However, low levels of HDL increase the risk of plaque buildup and heart disease because this may increase the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. HDL typically carries cholesterol away from the arteries, redirecting it to the liver, after which it is eliminated from the body.
LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol and makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. When too much LDL circulates in the blood, it builds up in the inner walls of the arteries and, together with other substances, can form plaque. Plaque is a thick, hard substance that can narrow the arteries, limiting the amount of blood that can pass through. As the artery narrows and hardens, less blood can get through, which can cause a clot or blockage to form in the narrowed artery that may lead to the heart or the brain, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
Triglycerides are a form of fat made in the body. They are the most common type of fat in the body and store excess energy from your diet. Elevated triglyceride levels may be the result of being overweight or obese, having diabetes, limited physical inactivity, and smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or a diet high in carbohydrates. People with high triglycerides often have high total cholesterol levels, including high LDL levels and low HDL levels. This combination can result in fat buildup within the artery walls, increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke. As such, many people with heart disease and/or diabetes may also have high triglyceride levels.
How to treat and control cholesterol?
Preventing high cholesterol and triglycerides can be as easy as reducing risk factors that are within your control. Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as choosing healthier nutrient-rich foods with less saturated fat, increasing your physical activity and quitting smoking.
If you already have high LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, your physician may prescribe medication that treats your condition. On the contrary, if you have low HDL cholesterol levels, your physician may recommend various measures to raise your levels safely and healthily.
Make sure to test your cholesterol regularly to stay in control of your cholesterol.
For more information please contact Dr JCL Mbuyamba.
Tel: +27 87 087 8531
Email: [email protected]
The Lenmed Group is a world-class chain of Private Hospitals that brings quality healthcare to communities across Southern Africa.
Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.