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What Your Lipids Check-Up Can Tell You About How Your Cholesterol is Broken Down

Lipids West Coast Medicine and Cardiology, Dr. Rajesh Sam Suri

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance your body uses to make hormones, fat-soluble vitamins, and bile acids to help digest food. At normal levels, cholesterol is vital to your health.

You need only a small amount of cholesterol, and your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. The majority of the cholesterol in your bloodstream comes instead from components of your diet that are converted to cholesterol; the most potent is saturated fat.

Because too much cholesterol in your blood spells trouble for your heart and the rest of your circulatory system, it’s important to see your cardiologist for a lipids check-up. Doing so gives you a breakdown of the cholesterol in your blood and provides insight into your overall lipid risk.

Lipids and heart health

At West Coast Medicine and Cardiology, Dr. Rajesh Sam Suri leads a highly experienced team of specialists who provide the highest-quality cardiology and vascular aesthetics. Keeping your cholesterol in check is key to protecting your heart and circulatory system. A lipids panel analyzes the cholesterol in your blood and is a good indicator of your heart health risks.

There are several types of cholesterol. Familiarizing yourself with the breakdown of lipids in your blood lets you know whether your cholesterol is within a healthy range, and whether you need to make some practical dietary and lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy.

Low-density lipoprotein

Cholesterol is an oily, waxy substance, and oil and liquid don’t mix very well. Because of its oily properties, cholesterol can’t travel through the blood well on its own. Instead it’s carried through the bloodstream in packages called lipoproteins.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is a type of “bad” cholesterol. It’s considered a bad form of cholesterol because it carries cholesterol and deposits it throughout the body, contributing to fatty buildup in arteries, organs and other tissues.

LDL levels that remain elevated increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s recommended that you aim to keep your LDL levels below 100 mg/dl.

Very low-density lipoprotein

Very low-density lipoprotein is another component that impacts your heart health. Like LDL, VLDL transports fat throughout blood and deposits it in your tissues.

While LDL is composed of more cholesterol, VLDL consists of 60% triglycerides, another type of blood fat. Like cholesterol, elevated triglycerides can accumulate and clog arteries, spelling trouble for your heart. Normal VLDL are below 30 mg/dl.

High-density lipoprotein

We’ve discussed two bad guys, LDL and VLDL, but it’s important to know that not all forms of cholesterol are bad. High-density lipoprotein is a good form of cholesterol that does the opposite of LDL and VLDL. HDL removes cholesterol from your bloodstream and other parts of your body and carries it to the liver for elimination.

This helps to manage your cholesterol levels and prevent cholesterol from accumulating in your arteries and tissues. HDL levels above 60 mg/dl are desirable.

Total cholesterol

When looking at the breakdown of your cholesterol, total cholesterol indicates the total amount of cholesterol components in your blood. Cholesterol levels tend to increase with age. However, regardless of age, it’s recommended that you aim to keep your total cholesterol below 200 mg/dl.

If your lipid panel indicates an unhealthy composition of lipids in your bloodstream, you can do something about it. Limiting saturated fat intake, getting plenty of exercise, quitting smoking and losing weight are excellent ways to get your cholesterol levels in check.

When diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to manage your cholesterol, your doctor can prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication.

At West Coast Medicine and Cardiology, we provide the highest-quality cardiology care. Regular lipids check-ups play a key role in heart health. To schedule a check-up, call our Fremont or Hayward, California, office.

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