Cholesterol and Your Heart: Where Do We Stand?
What Is Cholesterol?
- Vital component of all cell membranes and tissue that protects nerve cells.
- Element that helps create many hormones including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
- Assists in creation of vitamin D and bile, a substance that helps digest fat.
Where Does Cholesterol Come From?
What Are the Types of Cholesterol?
- Low Density Lipoproteins (LDLs)—LDLs make up most of the body's cholesterol. These particles, called "bad" cholesterol, are partially responsible for forming plaque along blood vessel walls. The more LDLs you have, the greater your risk of getting coronary artery disease—or a heart attack.
- High Density Lipoproteins (HDLs)—HDLs are known as "good" cholesterol. They are the protective counterparts to LDLs. HDLs contain a high proportion of protein, and their function is to scour the bloodstream, collecting excess cholesterol and transporting it back to the liver. The liver removes the cholesterol from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Cholesterol and Heart Disease
|Unmodifiable Risk Factors||
|Modifiable Risk Factors|
What Is Your Risk?
|Total Cholesterol||less than 200 mg/dL (5.2 mmol/L)|
|LDL Cholesterol||less than 100 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L)|
|HDL Cholesterol||More than 40 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L)|
|Triglycerides||less than 150 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L)|
Ways to Lower Cholesterol
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/
National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov/
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.com/
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association. 2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013: early online. Available at: http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleID=1770217. Accessed January 6, 2013.
High cholesterol: understand your risks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/index.htm. Updated July 10, 2012. Accessed September 17, 2012.
Hypercholesterolemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated September 9, 2012. Accessed September 17, 2012.
NCEP ATP III guidelines. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Accessed September 17, 2012.
What is cholesterol? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed September 17, 2012.
What your cholesterol levels mean. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/What-Your-Cholesterol-Levels-Mean%5FUCM%5F305562%5FArticle.jsp. Updated August 23, 2012. Accessed September 17, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 09/19/2012 -