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HDL vs LDL - Understand Good Cholesterol and Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol frequently gets a sleazy reputation, but it's necessary for our body to function properly. Our body uses cholesterol to make hormones and vitamin D, and support digestion. Our liver creates enough cholesterol to handle these tasks, but our body doesn't just get cholesterol from your liver. Cholesterol is also present in foods such as meat, dairy, and poultry. If we consume a lot of these foods, our cholesterol levels may become too high.

HDL versus LDL cholesterol

There are two primary types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Lipoproteins are a mixture of fat and protein that transport lipids (fats) in the blood.

HDL is known as "good cholesterol" because it transfers cholesterol to your liver to be thrown out from your body. HDL helps your body get rid of excess cholesterol, so it does not end up in your arteries.

LDL is recognized as "bad cholesterol" because it takes cholesterol to your arteries, where it may collect in artery walls. Excess cholesterol in your arteries may lead to a build up of plaque known as atherosclerosis. This can spike the risk of blood clots in your arteries. If a blood clot breaks away and blocks an artery in your heart or brain, you may have a serious stroke or heart attack.

Plaque build up may also reduce blood flow and oxygen to major organs. Oxygen deprivation to your major organs or arteries may lead to peripheral arterial disease or kidney disease, in addition to a heart attack or stroke.​

Know your numbers

"India is currently witnessing nearly two million heart attacks a year, and a majority of the victims are youngsters," says Dr. Ashwani Mehta, senior consultant cardiologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

In India, 1 person dies every 33 seconds because of a heart attack, says a top city cardiologist. He also adds to it that the dangerous condition is making Indians its victim ten years ahead of the people in the West. Cholesterol problems are prevalent among Indians due to genetic risk, lack of physical activity, and suboptimal dietary habits.

The possibility of dying from heart disease in young people doubles with every 40 point increase in total cholesterol. Total cholesterol and LDL levels among Indians are similar to that of whites but higher than other Asians.

The only way to know about the level of cholesterol in your blood is by taking a test. The result includes your level of HDL, LDL, and 20 percent of your total triglycerides.​

HDL: The higher this number, the better. HDL should be at least higher than 55 mg/dL for females and 45 mg/dL for males.

LDL: The lower this number, the better. LDL shouldn't be more than 130 mg/dL if you don't have blood vessel disease, heart disease, or diabetes. It shouldn't be more than 100 mg/dL if you have any of the conditions mentioned above or high total cholesterol.

Triglycerides: Triglycerides are a common type of fat, and hence the number should be less than 150 mg/dL. If your triglycerides are higher than the average level and your LDL is also high, or your HDL is low, then you are at risk of developing atherosclerosis.​

What causes high cholesterol-

Lifestyle factors that may spike the level of cholesterol in your body are:

A diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, red meat, full-fat dairy products, and processed foods

Lack of regular exercise

Obesity

A large waist circumference (over 40 inches for men and over 35 inches for women)

How to treat high cholesterol-

Doctors often recommend these lifestyle changes to treat high cholesterol:​

Exercising regularly

Reducing stress

Stopping smoking

Eating a healthy diet

A healthy diet, regular exercise and medication can go a long way toward the reduction of high cholesterol. However, you should consider buying a health insurance cover to ensure you are financially intact in the hours of need. A health insurance policy is a must to combat the ever-spiking medical costs.