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Types of Cholesterol

When it comes to cholesterol, there’s good and there’s bad. And research suggests, for a healthy heart, you need to manage both.1

Types of cholesterol 

Good and Bad Cholesterol

There are two types of lipoprotein that transport cholesterol around our bodies in our bloodstream. ‘Bad’ low-density lipoprotein, LDL-C is the kind that can clog your arteries and put you at risk for heart disease. There is also ‘good’ high-density lipoprotein, HDL-C, the kind that may help prevent cholesterol building up in your arteries.2

Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood and they’re used to store excess energy from your diet. People with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including a high LDL cholesterol (bad) level and a low HDL cholesterol (good) level. High levels of these can also be a risk factor for heart disease.2

High LDL-C (the bad cholesterol) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. A risk factor is a condition that increases your chance of getting a disease.3

Over half of all adults in England have raised cholesterol (>5 mmol/L) however the high cholesterol itself usually has no signs or symptoms and therefore many people don’t know that their cholesterol levels are too high.4

LDL–C: BAD CHOLESTEROL1,2 HDL-C: GOOD CHOLESTEROL1,2 TRIGLYCERIDES: THE OTHER FAT1,2
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. With too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries and forms plaques. These narrow arteries and limit blood flow. When plaque breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are like the bin lorries of the circulation, picking up cholesterol from the circulation and from artery walls and bringing it back to the liver for disposal. HDL cholesterol is therefore often referred to as good cholesterol. Triglycerides are the main transport for fats in your body, the fats you use for energy and that come from the food we eat. High levels of triglycerides in the blood can also be a risk factor for heart disease.

While HDL-C and triglycerides are an important part of your overall cholesterol health, it’s critical to manage LDL-C when trying to reach a healthy cholesterol level and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.2 Find out more about cholesterol levels next.

References:

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is Cholesterol. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  2. American Heart Association. Good vs Bad Cholesterol. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/Good-vs-Bad-Cholesterol_UCM_305561_Article.jsp [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  3. American Heart Association. How To Get Your Cholesterol Tested. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/How-To-Get-Your-Cholesterol-Tested_UCM_305595_Article.jsp [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  4. Heart UK. Key Facts and Figures. Available at: https://heartuk.org.uk/press/press-kit/key-facts-figures [Last accessed 27 February 2017]