We all nowadays know the importance of trying to reduce cholesterol and many of us actively take steps to achieve a lower cholesterol level in our blood. I am frequently asked the question: "what is the difference between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol?"
So what is hdl cholesterol? (the good cholesterol) and what is ldl cholesterol? (the bad cholesterol). Read on and find out.
Cholesterol circulates in our blood attached to a protein called a lipoprotein. There are two basic types of lipoprotein. High density lipoprotein (HDL) or low density lipoprotein (LDL).
HDL is usually labelled as "good cholesterol" because the molecule is mostly protein and does not carry a high quantity of free fat along with it.
LDL on the other hand is a molecule that only has a small amount of protein and for the most part is made of of freely available and very easily disolved cholesterol fat. LDL is often referred to as "bad cholesterol."
If you have a lot of good cholesterol or HDL in your system then your heart will be quite well protected from the effects of fat. If you have a lot of LDL - or bad cholesterol - then you will be at greater risk of heart attack or stroke. This information has now been shown to be correct in countless medical studies throughout the world.
If you are having a cholesterol check or cholesterol blood test then your doctor will look at your blood test result and check the level of the Total Cholesterol count. He or she will then examine the count for the level of the good cholesterol or HDL. The ratio of the total cholesterol divided by the HDL level is thought to be a reflection of the "true cholesterol level" in your blood and as such is a good predictor of future heart attack or stroke problems.
For example - a total cholesterol count of 6.0 and an HDL count of 1.5 will give a ratio of 4.0. This is a healthy level and will usually indicate good cardiovascular health. A total count of 6.0 and an HDL count of 0.5 will give a ratio of 12.0: very bad news indeed from the point of view of stroke and heart attack risk.
(Note - these are UK values for typical results - US values will be different but the ratios will be the same: the UK and the US use different units to measure cholesterol levels.)
If you have a high cholesterol then get focused and take steps to change your lifestyle now. If you don't know what your cholesterol level is then make plans to speak to your doctor about whether you need it checked or not.
Dr Gordon Cameron MD is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has a special interest in the importance of helping patients achieve lower cholesterol levels and better blood pressure control. http://www.bloodpressurehigh.com ...
Author Gordon Cameron