Cholesterol: The Good and the Bad
Whenever heart problems and diseases are mentioned, one of the things that get discussed is the importance of having the right kind of cholesterol. In order to understand the different kinds of cholesterol, however, we first need to understand the importance of cholesterol to our body.
Cholesterol can actually be found in all cells of the body. It is a fatty, wax-like substance that is used by your body in order to create hormones and vitamin D crucial to food digestion. Now, these cholesterol travel along your blood vessels alongside your blood in packages known as lipoproteins. These lipo-proteins come in two different kinds – the Low Density Lipoproteins or LDL, and the High Density Lipoproteins or HDL. While most people think of HDL as the good cholesterol, the secret actually lies in keeping a good balance between these two kinds of lipoproteins.
So why is the LDL known as the bad cholesterol and HDL, the good cholesterol?
LDL is considered to be the bad cholesterol due to the fact that when white blood cells try to dissolve it, it becomes converted to toxic form. Aside from this, LDL also tends to build up along the walls of the artery. Over time, this could result to a narrower pathway for the blood cells. On the other hand, HDL is considered to be the good cholesterol due to the fact that it is the one responsible for carrying the cholesterol all the way back to your liver where it is removed from the body.
What happens when there’s too much cholesterol?
One of the things that you have to understand is that cholesterol does not readily dissolve in the blood stream. While the liver is able to remove excess cholesterol in HDL, it is unable to process LDL cholesterol. That being the case, there is a high risk of LDL cholesterol building up along the blood vessels. This, in turn, could greatly increase the risk of getting a coronary heart disease. Over time, the build of plaque could lead to what is known as artheriosclerosis. Since the pathway has already become narrowed by the hardened plaque, the blood now would have a hard time passing through the blood vessel. With pressure coming from the heart, and with no place to go, there is now an increased possibility for the formation of blood clot as well as the subsequent rupturing of the blood vessels.
How do I monitor my cholesterol level?
Generally, your cholesterol level can be tested using a blood test. Depending on your condition, the doctor might request you to fast a few hours before the blood is to be drawn. The blood is analyzed in a laboratory and would be interpreted by the doctor with reference to your age and family history, among other things.
If you, or anyone you know, has a high risk for developing high cholesterol level, you need to make sure that you are prepared to face any type of situation. One way of doing this is by having an AED unit on hand. It also pays to attend a CPR training so that you know what to do should someone around you suffer from a heart attack.