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The Low-Down on Cholesterol

1. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL: This is the “good” cholesterol that
helps to keep cholesterol away from your arteries and remove any excess
from arterial plaque, which may help to prevent heart disease.
2. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL: This “bad” cholesterol circulates in
your blood and, according to conventional thinking, may build up in your
arteries, forming plaque that makes your arteries narrow and less flexible
(a condition called atherosclerosis). If a clot forms in one of these
narrowed arteries leading to your heart or brain, a heart attack or stroke
may result.
Also making up your total cholesterol count are:
Triglycerides: Elevated levels of this dangerous fat have been linked to
heart disease and diabetes. Triglyceride levels are known to rise from
eating too many grains and sugars, being physically inactive, smoking
cigarettes, drinking alcohol excessively and being overweight or obese.
Lipoprotein (a), or Lp(a): Lp(a) is a substance that is made up of an LDL
"bad cholesterol" part plus a protein (apoprotein a). Elevated Lp(a) levels
are a very strong risk factor for heart disease. This has been well
established, yet very few physicians check for it in their patients.
Total Cholesterol is NOT a Good Indicator of Your Heart Disease Risk
Health officials in the United States urge everyone over the age of 20 to have
their cholesterol tested once every five years. Part of this test is your total
cholesterol, or the sum of your blood’s cholesterol content.
The American Heart Association
recommends that your total cholesterol is
less than 200 mg/dL, but what they do not
tell you is that total cholesterol level is just
about worthless in determining your risk
for heart disease, unless it is above 300.
I have seen a number of people with
levels over 250 who actually were at low
heart disease risk due to their HDL levels.
Conversely, I have seen even more who
had cholesterol levels under 200 that were at a very high risk of heart disease
based on the following additional tests:
Your HDL/Cholesterol ratio
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