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LDL Cholesterol - Definition, Risks, and Tests

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Cholesterol is the fat that is used and produced by the body. LDL or low-density lipoprotein is not good for health.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Muhammad Zohaib Siddiq

Published At November 1, 2022
Reviewed AtNovember 1, 2022

Introduction

Cholesterol refers to a kind of fat that is waxy inconsistently. It can either be fat or lipids that move throughout the body and enter the bloodstream. Lipids are substances that are hydrophobic, which means they repel water and thus do not dissolve in water. This is the reason they do not come apart in blood. The body makes cholesterol. Cholesterol can also be added to the body via food. Cholesterol is absent in plants and is found only in animal-based products. Every cell and every tissue in the body requires cholesterol.

Cholesterol aids in the cell membranes to be attached and form layers. The layers are formed to protect the contents within the cell. In other words, cholesterol helps the gatekeepers of the cell to function correctly. Cholesterol is made with the help of the liver and is also utilized by the liver in order to produce bile juice. Bile helps in the digestion of food. Cholesterol is necessary for hormonal balance as well as the production of vitamin D. When there is excess cholesterol in the body, it may pose a problem. Too much of anything is not good. High cholesterol levels are called hypercholesterolemia, and low levels of cholesterol are reached hypocholesterolemia.

What Are the Types of Cholesterol?

Cholesterol swims throughout the body and is carried by lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are found in the blood. There are mainly three kinds of cholesterol, as mentioned below.

  • Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is generally called bad cholesterol.

  • High-density lipoprotein or HDL, known as the good cholesterol

  • Very low-density lipoprotein, or VLDL, carries and transports triglycerides.

What Is Low-Density Lipoprotein or LDL?

Low-density lipoprotein can build upon the walls of the arteries of the heart. This will make the coronary arteries narrow and will thus lead to coronary artery disease in the long run. The fatty accumulation forms plaque that piles on the arteries leading to blockages. This blockage in the artery due to plaque lineup is called atherosclerosis. These arteries cannot be damaged because they carry oxygen-rich blood to the body. In diet, saturated fats and trans fats must be minimized in order to keep low-density lipoprotein at bay. Saturated fats are present in meat, milk, butter, and cheese. Trans fats are present in fried food and fast food, and that food that has a long shelf life, for example, cookies, baked foods, and crackers.

What Are the Tests to Measure Cholesterol?

Once a human has reached the age of 20, it is advised to get their cholesterol checked routine; this is due to the change in lifestyle that becomes more sedentary and the inclusion of junk foods in one’s diet. The healthcare provider will request specific tests to indicate the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. A phlebotomist is a professional who does the job of studying cholesterol levels. It is also suggested to fast for a period of nine to twelve hours before the test. The results are generally ready within two days. Mentioned below are some of the tests that can be done to measure cholesterol levels.

  • Total cholesterol test.

  • Low-density lipoprotein levels.

  • High-density lipoprotein levels.

  • Very low-density lipoprotein levels.

  • Triglycerides level.

  • Non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol test.

  • The ratio between high-density lipoprotein and cholesterol.

  • Lipid profile.

What Are the Risks of Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol or LDL?

A high amount of lower-density lipoprotein can make the human body a warehouse of multiple diseases. Mentioned below are the several risks of low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol.

  • Peripheral artery disease.

  • Coronary artery disease.

  • Stroke.

  • Angina pectoris.

  • Chest discomfort.

What Are the Normal Levels of Cholesterol?

Standard levels of cholesterol differ and are dependent on factors such as age and gender. Mentioned below are some of the normal levels of the different types of cholesterol.

  • Individuals younger than 19 should have low-density lipoprotein of less than 110 mg/ dL and high-density lipoprotein of more than 45 mg/ dL. The total cholesterol in such individuals should be of less than 170 mg/ dL. In case they have low-density lipoprotein greater or equal to 130 g/ dL, they are considered to have high cholesterol.

  • Males above the age of 20 should have low-density lipoprotein less than 100 mg/ dL and high-density lipoprotein of 40 mg/ dL or even higher. The total cholesterol present in them should be within the range of 125 mg/ dL to 200 mg/ dL. In case they have low-density lipoprotein within the scope of 160 mg/ dL to 189 mg/ dL or higher, they are considered to have high cholesterol.

  • Females above the age of 20 should have low-density lipoprotein of less than 100 mg/ dL and high-density lipoprotein of 50 mg/ dL or even higher. The total cholesterol present in them should be within the range of 125 mg/ dL to 200 mg/ dL. In case they have low-density lipoprotein within the range of 160 mg/ dL to 189 mg/ dL or higher, they are considered to have high cholesterol.

Conclusion

Cholesterol is the amount of fat present in the body. It is produced within the body but can also be increased by our food. Low-density lipoproteins are considered flawed, whereas high-density lipoprotein is deemed good because they do not attach to the walls of the heart arteries and carry any lipoprotein attached to the coronary arteries. This is one of the reasons why LDL cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein, is commonly called bad cholesterol. Keeping a healthy weight and controlling blood sugar as well as blood pressure are some ways to keep the cholesterol parameters in the body at an optimum level. Medications along with regular exercise, a weight loss plan, along with a healthy diet are several ways to lower the levels of low-density lipoprotein or LDL. The habit of chewing tobacco and smoking should also be cut down for faster results. The addition of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids does not directly affect low-density lipoprotein instead, they have several additional cardiovascular benefits, reducing blood pressure to optimum levels, is one of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Are the Complications of Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol?

The complications of high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol include:
- Peripheral artery disease.
- Coronary artery diseases.
- Heart disease.
- Stroke

2.

Why Do We Check Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels?

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, levels are checked by the cholesterol test. High low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels cause artery plaque to form, which can cause heart disease or stroke.

3.

Is Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol a Risk Factor for Heart Attacks?

Low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol can cause the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries. These fatty deposits may increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.

4.

Can Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Be Treated?

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol can be treated. Medications and lifestyle are the first line of treatment for improving low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

5.

What Are the Causes of Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol?

The causes of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol include:
- Poor Diet - Unhealthy cholesterol levels might occur from eating too much saturated or trans fat. 
- Obesity - People who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher are at risk of having high cholesterol.
- Smoking - Smoking cigarettes may lower good cholesterol levels.
- Alcohol - Alcohol consumption in excess might increase the total cholesterol level.
- Age - Even young children can have bad cholesterol, but those above 40 years have a considerably higher prevalence of it.

6.

How Low-Density Lipoprotein Levels of Cholesterol Can Be Corrected?

- Consume Heart-Healthy Food - A few dietary adjustments may lower the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and strengthen the heart.
- Regular Exercise - Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol can be corrected with regular exercise. Increased physical activity and working out most days of the week can raise good cholesterol.
- Habits - Quitting habits like smoking and alcohol may improve the good cholesterol level.
- Loss Weight - Weight loss may improve low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

7.

Can High Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Be Cured?

Yes, high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol can be cured by changing lifestyle, exercising, and eating healthy food. But a doctor may prescribe medications if significant lifestyle changes have not helped lower the cholesterol levels and they continue to remain high.

8.

When should LDL be checked?

Starting at age 20, the American Heart Association (AHA) advises getting tested at least every four to six years, provided the overall risk of heart disease is modest. According to the AHA, the doctor should determine the risk of having an attack or stroke within the next 10 years if you are over 40.

9.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of LDL cholesterol?

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is typically a "silent" disease. Usually, it does not result in any symptoms. Therefore, before experiencing a fall back like a heart attack or stroke, most people do not even realize they have high cholesterol.

10.

Should I be concerned about my LDL?

According to research, elevated cholesterol should be a concern for everyone. To avoid heart disease, lowering cholesterol is essential.

11.

Can Stress Lead to High LDL Levels?

Chronic stress raises stress hormone levels regularly, which might result in a regular rise in blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, or triglycerides.

12.

What Is the Best Diet to Lower Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol?

The diet to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol includes the following:
- Reduce saturated fats. Saturated fats are mostly found in red meat and full-fat dairy products, increasing cholesterol.
- Trans fats must be eliminated.
- Omega-3 fatty acid-rich meals should be consumed.
- Add more soluble fiber.
- Add whey protein.

13.

Does Exercise Reduce the Risk of Cholesterol?

 
Yes, exercise lowers cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol. It can be increased with moderate physical activity. Try to work at least 30 minutes of exercise.

14.

Is Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Temporary?

Yes, high values of low-density lipoprotein can be lowered by changing a person's lifestyle, medications and diet.
  - Diet - Consume lower saturated fat and more dietary fiber. Saturated fats increase low-density lipoprotein cholesterol synthesis in the body. According to physicians, a plant-based diet helps lower cholesterol and improves overall cardiac and physical health. They suggest consuming lots of fiber and healthy fats, including.
- Plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
- Dairy products with minimal fat and lean proteins, such as fish, soy, poultry, and beans.
- Instead of unhealthy fats like butter, use healthy fats like almond and olive oil.
- Limit the consumption of red meat, processed meals, salt, and sugar.
 
- Exercises - Heart disease can be prevented by aerobic exercise, which helps the body increase high density lipoprotein levels.

15.

How Much Time Does It Take for Low-Density Lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) to Decrease?

According to the research low density lipoprotein cholesterol level may decrease within three to six months if diet and exercises are followed strictly.
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Dr. Muhammad Zohaib Siddiq
Dr. Muhammad Zohaib Siddiq

Cardiology

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