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The Good and Bad of Cholesterol

POSTED BY: Colleen Monday

Having your cholesterol tested is just a simple as a blood test, but those numbers can really tell you volumes about your heart health.  Here is a basic look at what our cholesterol is and why it’s so important to keep it in check. 

There are two types of cholesterol; good and bad. HDL is known as the “good cholesterol” and carries the cholesterol away from the arteries.  LDL is known as the “bad cholesterol” that can cause build up in the arteries resulting in a heart attack. Both types of cholesterol are measured to determine your risk factors for heart disease.

Cholesterol is defined as a fatty like substance made in the liver and other cells and found in certain foods including dairy products, meat and eggs. The body needs some cholesterol in order to function but needs only a small amount.  The American Heart Association (AHA) says that having too much cholesterol is dangerous as a thick layer can form on your arteries, restricting the flow of blood to the heart. The results can be severe and can lead to a heart attack, blood problems and heart disease.

It is recommended by AHA to have a fasting lipid profile every five years for adults over 20 years old. The test measures LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides (a type of fat in the body). The test results will help your physician determine if you are at risk for heart disease.  Many factors can influence your cholesterol levels including age, family history, diet, diabetes, certain medications and medical conditions.

Make it a priority to get your cholesterol checked on a regular basis by your health care provider. “If you have diabetes or known heart disease, you are in danger of complications if your cholesterol is not treated.” says Rohit Bhatheja, MD, FACC, FSCAI.

Learn more about heart disease and treatments from the Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute.