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Is There Such a Thing as Good Cholesterol?

Understanding the cholesterol readings when you have a blood test can be confusing. There are several numbers that you should pay attention to, and in this post, we explain what they are and why they matter. 

The expert providers at Heart & Vascular Institute always go over your test results with you, explain your cholesterol numbers, and answer your questions. 

However, you may think of questions later, or want to come to your appointment with a little deeper understanding about what your results mean. And that’s where this post comes in. 

Lipid profiles

One of the most common blood tests is a lipid profile. This profile measures your total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. 

Each of those measurements provides information about how your body is handling the food you eat, and whether you should take steps to improve your heart health. 

Your liver naturally produces the cholesterol your body needs, but you also consume it in food derived from animals, such as meat and dairy products. Triglycerides are a type of fat, and they store excess calories. 

LDL cholesterol

Often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, high levels of LDL can raise your risk of serious health problems like stroke and heart disease.

It’s the substance that builds up in the arteries and leads to atherosclerosis, which narrows and stiffens your arteries and causes your heart to work much harder. 

HDL cholesterol

This is the type of cholesterol that you’ve probably heard called “good cholesterol.” Having more HDL in your blood is a good thing. Scientists think that HDL grabs LDL out of your blood and returns it to your liver where it’s processed out of your body. 

Triglycerides

Most of the fat in your body is in the form of triglycerides. Your body converts excess calories, alcohol, and sugar into triglycerides for storage. 

Other factors matter too

If your lipid profile seems alarming, don’t immediately start worrying. Those numbers are important, but they aren’t the only factors that make a difference for your heart health. 

For example, your blood pressure is a critical metric that your doctor considers when looking at your overall health. Another is whether you smoke, if you have other health conditions, how often you exercise, and so on.

Mitigating your risk

If your total blood cholesterol level — a combination of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides — is more than 200 mg/dL, your doctor may suggest you take steps to lower it.

Increasing the amount and intensity of exercise you do and adopting a healthy diet are good places to start. Doing those two things can also help you lose any excess weight, which should also help lower your blood cholesterol levels. 

Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol are also good ways to improve your overall health and lower your cholesterol. Your doctor may also recommend medications. 

If you’d like to learn more about blood cholesterol, or you have questions about your specific situation, come see us at Heart & Vascular Institute, with locations in Dearborn, Detroit, and Southfield, Michigan. We can provide advice based on your individual health.

Call any of our convenient locations, or book your appointment online.

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