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HDL Cholesterol: Everything You Need to Know About Good Cholesterol


Definition: What is cholesterol?

From a scientific and simplified point of view, the cholesterol is a sterol (form of polycyclic alcohol) consisting of 27 carbon atoms. According to more practical considerations, cholesterol belongs to the family of lipids that’s to say fats. He can be provided by food (in meat, eggs, cheese, butter) or produced endogenously by the body. Cholesterol is insoluble in liquids and, in fact, circulates through the blood network without mixing.

Cholesterol must be coupled with a protein that serves as a vessel to trace its route through the body. We talk about it lipoprotein. Regardless of which transport protein it binds to, cholesterol remains the same. Contrary to popular belief, therefore, there are not several types of cholesterol but rather different cholesterol transport proteins. These macromolecules are two in number:

  • THE High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) O high density lipoproteins which carry the so-called « HDL » cholesterol.
  • THE Low density lipoproteins (LDL) O low density lipoproteins that carry LDL cholesterol.

LDL or HDL: Which is the good cholesterol?

This is not new, cholesterol sometimes plays a bad role and sometimes a good one. But this popular idea is not contextualized. Cholesterol is actually necessary for the body (if not downright vital). And yes, cholesterol is an essential component of our cells. It is the precursor of steroid hormones. It also contributes to the production of substances such as vitamin D. Finally, this lipid is part of the composition of bile.

Cholesterol only becomes harmful if it is absorbed daily in too large amounts through food or if the lack of physical activity it slows down your metabolism. In addition, it is necessary to respect a balance in the type of fat consumed : THE saturated fatty acids tend to promote cholesterol deposits in the arteries when consumed regularlyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 36 and 9) is associated with a marked reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events.

LDL cholesterol is « bad »

THE LDL cholesterol looks like the « bad cholesterol« . It actually corresponds to the cholesterol that circulates from the liver and intestine to our cells thanks to LDL lipoproteins. It is perceived as harmful because when there is too much of it. cholesterol that migrates from the liver and intestine to our cells, the latter are not recovered and returned to these organs by the LDL lipoprotein (which is completely overwhelmed). The risk is then that the residual cholesterol accumulates in the blood vessels leading to the formation of atheroma plaques. That’s what we call it atherosclerosis. This phenomenon reduces the lumen of our arteries increasing the risk of cardiovascular accident.

Why is HDL cholesterol « good »?

On the other hand, the HDL cholesterol looks like the « good cholesterol« . Together with its HDL lipoprotein, its function is to recover excess cholesterol in blood vessels or accumulated in our organs. HDL lipoproteins then carry cholesterol to the liver where it is eliminated. Therefore, HDL cholesterol allows a real cleaning of our blood vessels. It prevents the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the walls of the arteries and arteries. reduces cardiovascular risks.

HDL Cholesterol Level Analysis: How is this blood test done?

THE HDL cholesterol test is carried out in the framework of a lipid profile prescribed by your doctor. It is carried out in Medical analysis laboratory requiring a venous blood sampling.

The exam must be taken on an empty stomach. This means not eating or drinking anything (except water) for the previous 12 hours. It is also advised not to drink alcohol 48 hours before the blood test.

This blood test is generally performed at the level of the elbow flexion. She almost is painless I fast. However, it is unpleasant for many patients. If you tend to turn pale at the sight of a syringe, don’t hesitate to ask for the blood sample to be drawn while lying down (avoid looking at the injection).

You can also perform this analysis at home, if you cannot travel.

Once collected, the blood sample is analyzed to measure:

  • THE HDL cholesterol level ;
  • THE LDL cholesterol level ;
  • THE total cholesterol level ;
  • THE triglyceride levels.

HDL cholesterol: what is the right level?

The right HDL level

THE HDL cholesterol level must be greater than 0.4 g/L. If you have low HDL cholesterol, you should see a doctor. In general, this too low rate is associated with other lipid abnormalities affecting LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

What is the correct HDL/LDL ratio?

If your HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) level is too low, your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) level may, conversely, be excessive. Your The LDL cholesterol level should be less than 1.6 g/L. Go back to your doctor if you have too much LDL cholesterol.

How to interpret the total cholesterol level?

The calculation of total cholesterol it takes into account the level of HDL cholesterol and the level of LDL cholesterol. It is considered thatmust be less than 2 g/L. The analysis of total cholesterol, however, is not exhaustive, it is also important to know precisely the levels of LDL, HDL as well as the total cholesterol/HDL ratio. This comprehensive report measures cardiovascular risk. It is used less and less. However, beyond 4.0 is still considered a significant arterial risk.

Triglycerides: what are the normal values?

Finally, the The triglyceride level should be less than 1.5 g/L. Otherwise, you should consult your doctor.

Low HDL Cholesterol: Why? What to do ?

A low level of HDL cholesterol (less than 0.4 g/L) is often a sign of a hypocholesterolemiathat is to say of a cholesterol deficiency. Rarely, this lack of cholesterol can be related to:

  • a malnutrition (overweight, obesity, malnutrition, unbalanced diet…);
  • there Sedentary lifestyle ;
  • i’high blood pressure;
  • THE diabetes ;
  • THE to smoke;
  • i’atherogenic hyperlipoproteinemia;
  • a genetic anomaly ;
  • a cholesterol malabsorption ;
  • there take progestogen drugs in women;
  • pathology such as cancera hyperthyroidisma Liver failure ;
  • A been depressed.

A low level of HDL cholesterol is a cardiovascular risk. If the level of HDL is low, cholesterol remains in the bloodstream and builds up until it causes plaques to form in the walls of the arteries and gradually clog them.

Treatment varies depending on the cause of the hypocholesterolemia. It can happen through:

  • There management of the causative disease ;
  • Froms hygiene and food measures such as a balanced diet, regular physical activity and quitting smoking and alcohol.

It should be noted that some lipid-lowering drugs like the statins may moderately raise HDL cholesterol levels.

High level of HDL cholesterol: a cardioprotective effect

A high HDL cholesterol, greater than 0.6 g/L, is perceived as favorable for health. This high rate could be associated with a cardioprotective effect. It is common to sports people. In fact, physical activity would increase HDL cholesterol levels and decrease LDL cholesterol levels.

However, an elevated level of HDL cholesterol should be analyzed against the rest of the lipid panel results. In addition, this rate can be artificial and is explained by the taking of certain drugs, including hypolipidemic ones.

How to lower bad cholesterol and increase the good?

Is possible restore the balance of good and bad cholesterol naturally (although some patients are constitutional hypersecretors of cholesterol (genetic cause)). A balanced diet and one regular physical activity reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol.

Prioritize foods rich in fiber (fruits, vegetables, oilseeds, legumes and whole grains) and unsaturated fatty acids (especially omega 3) such as fatty fish and the virgin oils. Integrate daily antioxidant foods which help to fight against the oxidation of cholesterol as well as unprocessed foods and which have low glycemic indices. Limit your consumption of alcohol, tobacco, fatty meats and charcuterie

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