Cholesterol and Your Heart: Where Do We Stand?
What Is Cholesterol?
- Vital component of all cell membranes and tissue that protects nerve cells
- Backbone of 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
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org
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://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437738.63853.7a. Accessed October 14, 2014.
Good vs. bad cholesterol. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/Good-vs-Bad-Cholesterol%5FUCM%5F305561%5FArticle.jsp. Updated April 21, 2014. Accessed October 14, 2014.
Goluszko P, Nowicki B. Membrane cholesterol: a crucial molecule affecting interactions of microbial pathogens with mammalian cells. Infect Immun. 2005 Dec;73(12):7791-7796.
High cholesterol: understand your risks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/index.htm. Updated February 28, 2014. Accessed October 14, 2014.
Hypercholesterolemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 2, 2014. Accessed October 14, 2014.
NCEP ATP III guidelines. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated November 14, 2013. Accessed October 14, 2014.
What do my cholesterol levels mean? American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm%5F300301.pdf. Published 2012. Accessed October 14, 2014.
What is cholesterol? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/. Updated September 19, 2012. Accessed October 14, 2014.
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 15, 2014. Accessed October 14, 2014.
Who is at risk for heart disease. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hdw/atrisk.html. Updated April 21, 2014. Accessed October 14, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 10/14/2014 -