Cholesterol Health Issues

Know More about HDL, LDL Levels

Sometime after a healthy person eats a meal, the levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides containing lipoproteins increase in the bloodstream. This happens purely due to the digestive breakdown of food into its various simpler molecular constituents that are suitable for bloodstream transport to tissues and cells.

A couple of hours later, the level of both cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream in their respective lipoprotein envelopes decreases. This happens as the cholesterol and triglycerides by then reach the cells and tissues and are stored and consumed there.

In some unhealthy individuals, a surfeit of cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream is found thereafter. This occurs after all the energy and growth requirements of their tissues and cells have been met. High level of remaining cholesterol and triglycerides in their bloodstream results in obesity, unheralded danger to blood vessels, and to their heart.

In such individuals it is found that the excess cholesterol (bad) in the LDL (low density lipoproteins) envelopes and/or the IDL (intermediate density lipoproteins) envelopes gets deposited in the blood vessels in the form of plaque.

The effective inner diameter of the blood vessels then decreases. This in turn imposes high stress on the heart which then has to pump blood through constricted blood vessels. It gives rise to angina, atherosclerosis (thickening or hardening of the arteries), and coronary heart disease (CHD).

Excess triglycerides in the blood also contribute towards atherosclerosis. The amount of VLDL (very low density lipoproteins) triglycerides in the blood needs to be more than 40 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) for indicating atherosclerosis. It has been found that more than 150 mg/dl of LDL cholesterol and less than 40 mg/dl of HDL (high density lipoproteins) cholesterol in the blood are both harmful for your heart.

In case your blood cholesterol is abnormally high, doctors generally test your (fasting) blood for your lipid profile. In the lipid panel test, they find the amounts of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and the HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio in your blood. The ratio equals the amount of HDL cholesterol (mg/dl) divided by the amount of LDL cholesterol (mg/dl).

A HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio of less than 0.3 is considered harmful for your health. This is because on the one hand a comparatively lower cholesterol ratio indicates that your blood has less than optimum HDL.

HDL is good as it removes cholesterol deposits from the blood and transports them to the liver for disposal.  On the other hand, the comparatively lower cholesterol ratio can also indicate much more than optimum LDL cholesterol in the blood than can be removed by the available HDL protein envelope in the blood.

The American Hearts Association (AHA) does not consider the HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio to be as good an indicator of CHD as is the absolute HDL cholesterol amount and the absolute LDL amount. Besides the HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio, doctors also compute certain other cholesterol ratios to predict CHD.

They sometimes use the inverse LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio which is simply the reverse of the HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio. Some doctors use the total cholesterol/HDL ratio. CHD is indicated if the total cholesterol/HDL ratio is more than 5:1.