Cholesterol: The GOOD and BAD of it

Unravel your doubts about cholesterol CholesterolCholesterol is a wax-like substance that is found in the lipids (fats) of the blood. While our body does need some cholesterol to function properly, its high levels can increase the risk of cardiac ailments.

The excess of cholesterol remains pooled up in the blood and get stuck to the walls of arteries in the form of plaque. This causes narrowing of arteries resulting in improper transportation of blood in and out of the heart. The heart may not get enough oxygenated blood as it needs and the brain also gets deprived of it, raising the chances of heart attacks and stroke.

Cholesterol comes in two types – Good and bad cholesterol.

LDL – The “bad body” of the story

Among the two, LDL or low density lipoprotein is the “mischievous” one. LDL gets deposited in the walls of blood vessels, causing the blockage within them. Higher the LDL level in blood, greater is the person at risk for a heart attack from an abrupt blood clot in an already narrowed artery by atherosclerosis. LDL levels in the blood should be as low as possible. Range:

  • LDL levels between 130 and 159 mg/dL is borderline high
  • LDL levels between 160 and 189 mg/dL is high
  • LDL levels of 190 mg/dL or more is very high and alarming

HDL – Our Good Samaritan

High density cholesterol or HDL is the “nicer” one. This friendly cholesterol sails through the bloodstream and along with removes harmful bad (LDL) cholesterol from where it clearly does not belong. High HDL levels reduce the risk for heart disease, wherein their low levels swells the threat of heart diseases manifold. Range:

  • HDL levels greater than 60 (mg/dL) are high. And that’s good.
  • HDL levels less than 40 mg/dL are low. That’s bad.

What to do to achieve ideal levels: To help lower the LDL and increase HDL levels, do the following:

  • Keep away from foods high in saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and excess of calories
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Medication, prescribed by physician

How to screen: The screening test for cholesterol is usually performed in a blood test called a “lipid profile”. Cholesterol levels should be measured at least once in every five years over the age of 20. Experts advocate that men aged 35 and above and women aged 45 and older should be more frequently screened for lipid disorders.

Regular preventive health checkups are the only way to assess your cholesterol levels. Indus Health Plus provides specially designed preventive health check up packages for all age groups catering to every phase of life.