Medically Reviewed by Dr. K. Updated as of 26 May 2022
Table of contents
What Is LDL?
LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad" cholesterol because it builds up in the walls of your blood vessels, increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Cholesterol, on the other hand, isn't entirely bad. It's necessary for your body to protect its nerves and produce healthy cells and hormones.
Some cholesterol is obtained from the foods you consume, and the rest is produced by your liver. Proteins transport it where it has to go since it won't dissolve in blood. Lipoproteins are the carriers in question.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is a small particle made up of a lipoprotein outer rim and a cholesterol core.
LDL vs. HDL
LDL cholesterol makes up the majority of the cholesterol in your body. The remaining cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), often known as “good" cholesterol. LDL is carried by HDL to your liver, where it is excreted. High levels of HDL may help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
High LDL Cholesterol Diagnosis
LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol levels can all be measured with a blood test. Triglycerides, a form of fat that stores additional energy from your food, are also measured. High triglyceride levels may increase your risk of heart diseases.
Testing should be done every 4 to 6 years, according to experts. If you have heart disease or diabetes, or if high cholesterol runs in your family, you'll probably require monitoring more regularly.
When it comes to LDL cholesterol test results, the lower the number, the better. These are the following guidelines:
- Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL): Optimal
- 100-129 mg/dL: Near or above optimal
- 130-159 mg/dL: Borderline high
- 160-189 mg/dL: High
- 190 mg/dL and above: Very high
Your doctor may recommend an LDL target of 70 mg/dL or less if you have a condition like heart disease or diabetes.
Risks of High LDL Cholesterol
High LDL cholesterol levels may increase your risk of developing illnesses such as:
- Coronary artery disease
- Peripheral artery disease
- Heart disease – angina (chest pain) and heart attack
The emphasis was on decreasing “bad" cholesterol to a specified level. Now, you and your doctor will most likely cooperate to find a method to reduce it by a certain percentage. It's based on your risks of developing heart disease or having a stroke.
Doctors use a calculator to calculate your risks of developing such issues in the following ten years. The calculator takes into account a number of factors, including:
- Your cholesterol level
- Your age
- Your blood pressure
- Whether you smoke or not
- If you take any blood pressure medicine
All of these factors affect your risks of developing a heart condition. Other concerns include the following:
- Having pre-existing diabetes
- Having a family history of heart disease
How to Lower High LDL Cholesterol
Your doctor will devise a strategy including lifestyle modifications and/or medicines to help you reduce your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Your strategy might incorporate the following components:
- A healthy diet: Avoid foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, or simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour. Increase your intake of fibre and plant sterols, such as those found in margarine or nuts.
- Regular exercise: The sort that increases your heart rate is the best.
- Weight loss: Even if you lose 5 to 10 pounds, your cholesterol levels will improve.
- Quitting tobacco: If you're having trouble quitting smoking, your doctor can help you choose the right programme for you to help.
- Medication: Some medications, such as statins, prevent your body from producing cholesterol. Another drug, ezetimibe (Zetia), helps your body absorb less cholesterol from the food you consume. You may receive injections of PCSK9 inhibitors if you can't take statins or if you have a severe type of high cholesterol. These medicines assist your liver in removing more LDL from your bloodstream.
Referenced on 26/4/2021
- American Heart Association: “LDL and HDL Cholesterol: What's Bad and What's Good?"
- Tabas, I. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2002.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need to Know," “High Blood Cholesterol.”
- Jenkins, D.K. JAMA, July 23, 2003.
- Stefanick, M.L. New England Journal of Medicine, 1998.
- American Heart Association: “Good Cholesterol vs. Bad Cholesterol."
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: “Carbohydrates: Complex Carbs vs Simple Carbs."
- American Academy of Family Physicians: “High Cholesterol.”
- CDC: “Cholesterol.”
- MedlinePlus: “LDL: The ‘Bad’ Cholesterol.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Cholesterol Guidelines and Heart Health.”