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What are the differences between good and bad cholesterol?

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

While many people know that high cholesterol is unhealthy, some may not be sure why. There are many conditions associated with high cholesterol that can negatively affect the entire body, all the way from the heart to the brain, potentially causing heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

What is cholesterol?
The human body relies on cholesterol for repairs of veins and arteries. Low density lipoproteins, also known as "LDL" or "bad cholesterol," seal off parts of your veins when they are in need of maintenance. While this is beneficial to the body, it can be very harmful if LDL cholesterol does not move after the repairs take place. High density lipoproteins, known as "good cholesterol" or "HDL​," remove the LDL from veins and return it to the liver. A good balance is necessary between these two types of cholesterol for a healthy body, according to The Irish Examiner.

A cholesterol test can identify whether someone has a high level of LDL. Having elevated LDL levels can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other issues since an abundance of this kind of lipid slows blood flow. This makes the heart work hard to compensate and can put unnecessary - and potentially deadly - strain on it. High LDL levels can cause blood clots, which cause many of these potentially life-threatening problems to occur, according to the Mayo Clinic.

High cholesterol risk factors
A lab test can be beneficial for those who are at risk for high cholesterol. Family history of high cholesterol can lead to a greater risk, as well as having diabetes or being overweight. Lifestyle plays an important role in cholesterol management, since proper diet and exercise can reduce LDL levels while smoking can aggravate certain conditions associated with high cholesterol.

Controlling risks
​Individuals get high LDL levels by consuming too many saturated and trans-fats. Limiting the amount of these fats will help to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood. Processed foods as well as fatty dairy products often can worsen LDL levels. Exercising regularly will help to increase heart strength and reduce the risk for heart disease, as well as lower levels of bad cholesterol.

It is possible to have high cholesterol levels and not show any symptoms, which is why having regular tests is important. A lab test online can clarify LDL and HDL levels without a visit to the doctor's office.

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