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What's the Difference Between LDL and HDL?

Your body needs cholesterol. However, not all cholesterol types are equally beneficial. Understanding the difference between LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is crucial for maintaining heart health and overall well-being.

Our team of interventional cardiologists at Premier Cardiology Consultants in New York have significant expertise in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the heart. This team of board-certified specialists also focuses on preventing or reversing heart disease through lifestyle changes, medications, and innovative procedures.

Read more from the Premier Cardiology Consultants team about the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol and why they matter.

Understanding cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body's cells and certain foods. It's essential for building cell membranes, producing hormones like estrogen and testosterone, digesting fats, and synthesizing nutrients like vitamin D.

Cholesterol is essential enough that your liver makes what your body needs for healthy cell function. However, you also absorb cholesterol from your diet, particularly animal fats, dairy products, meat, and shellfish.   

However, too much of certain cholesterol types can lead to health problems, particularly an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. There are two main types: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol is another type our Premier Cardiology Consultants team monitors. It’s similar to LDL cholesterol, but VLDL contains more triglycerides, a blood fat (lipid) that can negatively affect your health if elevated.

For instance, individuals with diabetes often have elevated triglycerides, which your body produces and stores in fat cells when you consume more calories than you need daily.

The difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol

Cholesterol types include:

LDL (low-density lipoprotein)

LDL cholesterol, often called the "bad" cholesterol, transports cholesterol particles throughout your body. While cholesterol is essential for building cells and producing certain hormones, too much LDL cholesterol can lead to the accumulation of plaque in your arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis can narrow and harden your arteries, restricting blood flow and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Therefore, keeping LDL cholesterol levels within a healthy range is essential.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein)

HDL cholesterol is often called the "good" cholesterol because it picks up and transports LDL particles back to the liver, where it’s processed and removed from your body. This helps reduce the buildup of plaque in your arteries.

Higher HDL cholesterol levels are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Therefore, promoting the production of HDL cholesterol through lifestyle choices is beneficial for maintaining heart health.

Managing cholesterol

Monitoring the levels of these different types of cholesterol through blood tests and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

Our team at Premier Cardiology Consultants designs personalized treatment plans for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.  

Your plan may include:

Smoking lowers HDL cholesterol levels and damages your blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease. Quitting smoking can improve your cholesterol levels and overall health.

Schedule an evaluation at Premier Cardiology Consultants today for a heart health checkup and care that may include cholesterol management.

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