When it comes to our health, we always hear about ways we can lower our cholesterol levels. But have you ever stopped to wonder what exactly cholesterol is and why we need to be so concerned with its levels? Let’s take a quick look…
Cholesterol is an essential building block for the normal metabolism of the body. Cholesterol is a lipid (fat). The liver produces 90% of the body’s cholesterol (usually during sleep). This is primarily a genetic factor; only 10% comes from food. Herein lies the issue: Lipids cannot circulate alone in the blood stream (fat and water do not mix) – they require a transport system. How do we transport those lipids? ‘Water-soluble’ proteins called lipoproteins transport cholesterol in the blood.
There are three main types of lipoproteins that transport cholesterol:
HDL (high-density lipoprotein). Referred to as “good” cholesterol, because it removes cholesterol from arterial plaque and transports it back to the liver to be metabolized.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein). Referred to as “bad” cholesterol, because it deposits cholesterol into the inflamed plaque of the artery wall.
VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein). This lipoprotein is directly related to the level of triglycerides.
Total cholesterol is the sum of all three types of lipoproteins. Measuring these and the triglyceride level produces a lipid profile. The ratio is the total cholesterol divided by the HDL level (the lower, the better).
Women are frequently told their cholesterol levels and “ratio” are either normal, or if abnormal, their ‘good’ cholesterol is ‘OK’. The problem is 50% of women who suffer their first heart attack or stroke have ‘normal’ cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association.
If you would like more information on cholesterol, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD in Fullerton, CA at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today .
Dr. Gordon Gunn proudly serves Buena Park, La Mirada, Yorba Linda, Diamond Bar, Walnut and all surrounding areas.