We’ve all heard that there are two different types of cholesterol that you can have within your body: good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. If you have trouble differentiating one from the other, it may help to know that “LDL” cholesterol is the bad option – a type of cholesterol that builds up within blood vessel walls, leading to clogging and blockage of atherosclerosis. The higher your levels of LDL cholesterol are, the more risks you have of suffering from a sudden heart attack as a result of a narrow artery or blood clot. Having your LDL cholesterol tested as frequently as possible can help you to understand the level of risk you are facing when it comes to heart disease. If your level of LDL cholesterol is too high, there are normal LDL cholesterol treatments that can bring it back down to a normal range, and reduce your chances of heart problems.
Understanding LDL Cholesterol
First and foremost, it’s worth noting that not all cholesterol are bad cholesterol. In fact, some forms of cholesterol are essential as fat that your body needs to grow and thrive. Because cholesterol cannot dissolve in the blood, it relies on proteins to carry it where it needs to go, and these methods of transport are known as lipoproteins. The lipoproteins collect and transport packages of cholesterol through the blood, and each form of lipoprotein has different preferences, behaving differently with the type of cholesterol it carries.
LDL cholesterol is bad because it can lead to atherosclerosis and plaque growth. Some LDL cholesterol will stick to the walls of arteries, and while white blood cells will try to swallow and digest the LDL to protect blood vessels, they actually end up converting the LDL into a toxic form. The more toxic the area becomes, the more white blood cells gather, creating a level of inflammation in the area that steadily grows over time. As the process continues, the growing plaque starts to block the artery, leading to clogs or ruptures. These are both issues that can lead to a heart attack.
Normal LDL Cholesterol Treatments
Most of the time, lifestyle choices are the ones most recommended to lower cholesterol and your risk of suffering from heart-related issues and diseases. This means that you might begin your treatment by changing up your diet, and forming a plan for regular exercise. Usually, a diet designed to lower LDL will be low in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, and high in plant sterols and fiber. The best exercise for high levels of LDL cholesterol is typically aerobic, as it helps to increase the “good” cholesterol in your body. If diet and exerciser aren’t enough, medical treatment in the form of statins, niacin, zetia, fibrates, bile acid sequestrants, and more may be required.
Remember, there are various important factors in play that may contribute to your risk of heart disease, beyond simply a higher than normal level of LDL cholesterol. For instance, diabetes, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and a lack of regular exercise can all contribute. While lowering your cholesterol through normal LDL cholesterol treatments are a good place to start, it’s also important to reduce the other factors too.