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Understanding Good & Bad Cholesterol

If you’ve been told you have high cholesterol, your doctor has likely talked to you about dietary changes, exercising more and possibly even targeted medications that can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Since most people with high cholesterol don’t exhibit any obvious symptoms, you may not know if you have it or not. A simple blood test at your doctor’s office will answer that question.

Understanding Good Versus Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol, a fatty substance made by the liver, moves through the bloodstream via lipoproteins. There are two kinds of lipoproteins, and we need them both.

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) transport cholesterol around to where it’s needed. If there’s too much cholesterol, it may be deposited into the arteries. LDL is commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.” High-density lipoproteins (HDL) take the extra cholesterol from your tissues and cells and return it to your liver for repurposing. That’s why HDL is called “good cholesterol.”

How High Cholesterol Affects Your Body

We need healthy levels of cholesterol in order to function properly. It allows our bodies to make vitamin D and hormones, and makes up bile acids.

Too much LDL and not enough HDL makes it more likely that your arteries will develop plaque, a hardened mixture of cholesterol, fat, and other elements. As coronary arteries become restricted, it becomes harder for blood to make it through to your heart. If an area of plaque breaks open, it can result in a blood clot, which can block blood flow altogether. This puts you at significant risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

High cholesterol can create a bile imbalance, leading to gallstones. According to the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse, more than 80 percent of gallstones are cholesterol stones.

Habits to Help Lower Bad Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, you want to reduce those numbers to help prevent a heart attack or a stroke. But if that brings to mind bowls of oat bran and hours on the treadmill, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Converting to a healthy lifestyle can be an adjustment, for sure. But the truth is, lifestyle changes really can make a difference. And they feel good. Consider making a few of the following changes and you’ll be on the road to posting better cholesterol levels – and maybe even avoiding cholesterol reducing prescriptions.

  • Limit your intake of foods full of saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol.
  • Eat a lot more fiber-rich foods (especially soluble fiber from foods like beans, oats, barley, fruits, and vegetables).
  • Choose protein-rich plant foods (such as legumes or beans, nuts, and seeds) over meat.
  • Lose as much excess weight as possible.

Why is Cholesterol a Major Concern Here at Lam Vascular?

High “bad” cholesterol levels put you at risk for various diseases, including peripheral artery disease (PAD) due to the buildup of plaque. This buildup is called atherosclerosis and makes it difficult for blood to circulate through the arteries. PAD primarily affects the legs, but can also damage arteries in the kidneys, abdomen, feet, ankles, pelvis, hips, buttocks and arms.

Have questions? Contact Lam Vascular today!


The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.

The information contained in this website is neither intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate or best care for any given health issue, nor is it intended to be used as a substitute for the independent judgment of a physician for any given health issue. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history. Please seek physician's advice. Like any procedure, it may come with benefits, risks or side effects associated. Click here for additional information.

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