HDL, good cholesterol and LDL, bad cholesterol
Molecules called lipoproteins, carry cholesterol in the blood. There are two important types of lipoproteins, they are low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). When checking LDL and HDL, doctors often include another type of fat called triglycerides.
• Total cholesterol is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol* in your blood and is based on the HDL, LDL, and triglycerides numbers.
• LDL cholesterol* makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol. LDL is known as bad cholesterol because having high levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke.
• HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol* and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because having high levels can reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke.
• Triglycrides are a type of fat found in your blood, that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides, with low HDL cholesterol* or high LDL cholesterol, can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Know Your Risk
Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol* levels. The test is called a lipid profile. The test measures various types of total cholesterol* and its individual parts, including triglycerides. Some doctors do another blood test that only checks total cholesterol* and HDL cholesterol.
If your lipid levels require treatment or not, it will not depend solely on your lipid profile numbers. Your doctor will analyze these numbers and your other risk factors to determine the danger of developing heart disease and help you decide if you need treatment.
There are no signs or symptoms of high LDL cholesterol. That is why it’s so important to get your cholesterol* checked. Talk to your doctor about what your numbers mean for you.
See also: “Cholesterol Symptoms and signs to look out for“
Who needs to get their cholesterol checked?
Cholesterol is something that must be controlled, as is blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you. All adults, 20 years of age or older, should control their cholesterol*.
If you are 20 years or older and have not been diagnosed with heart disease, it is recommended that your cholesterol* be checked every 5 years. Some people need to get their cholesterol checked more often.
All children and adolescents should have their cholesterol* monitored at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 years, and again between ages 17 and 21 years.
The most important, thing is to know your cholesterol* levels, along with other risk factors, such as age, sex, race / ethnicity, smoking, weight and blood pressure. As a result, it will help your doctor, decide if you should take medications to lower cholesterol*, and therefore reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.