Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.
Skip to main content

Here are the Key Differences Between HDL and LDL Cholesterol

Here are the Key Differences Between HDL and LDL Cholesterol

About 86 million American adults have high cholesterol, placing them at risk of serious and life-threatening complications like heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and dementia. Even more alarming — only about half of those women and men are currently taking medicine that could help them manage cholesterol and reduce the risk of those complications.

At Nguyen Medical Group, Thomas Nguyen, MD, MS, and Susan Nguyen-Mui, APRN, help patients manage their cholesterol levels with healthy lifestyle changes and medication when needed.  

Quick facts about cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that plays an important role in cell and organ health and function. We need some cholesterol in order to maintain those functions, and fortunately, our body is capable of producing all the cholesterol we need to stay healthy.

Cholesterol is also found in many foods — specifically, foods derived from animals. If we consume too much cholesterol, the extra cholesterol builds up in our bloodstream, sometimes collecting along the walls of our arteries and interfering with normal blood flow.

In fact, high cholesterol levels can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis or “hardening” of the arteries. When cholesterol builds up inside our arteries, it narrows the space for blood flow while also making arteries less flexible and less able to keep blood moving the way it’s supposed to.

Over time, the cholesterol deposits (or plaques) can prevent adequate oxygen and nutrients from reaching your organs (like your heart) or your limbs. Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease, two very serious medical complications that can take a major toll on your health and your quality of life.

HDL vs. LDL: What to know

Cholesterol is sometimes called “good” and “bad” cholesterol, which is a misnomer. “Bad” cholesterol refers to low-density lipoproteins or LDL. This type of cholesterol sticks to artery walls and forms plaques that lead to atherosclerosis.

“Good” cholesterol refers to high-density lipoproteins or HDL. HDL gets its “good” reputation because it helps eliminate LDL plaques, carrying some of the LDL cholesterol back to your liver where it can be processed and used or eliminated.

Although LDL can increase your risk of health problems, the truth is that LDL is not entirely “bad” — we need some for our cells to function. However, keeping both LDL and HDL within a healthy range is essential to reduce the likelihood of those problems.

Ideal ranges

Cholesterol levels are measured with a simple blood test. The test gives you values that reflect your cholesterol levels. Under current guidelines, healthy cholesterol levels are:

It’s important to note that these values are for people in good general health. If you have hypertension, diabetes, or other chronic diseases or risk factors, your recommended values can be different.

Managing your cholesterol levels

Genetics play a big role in determining your HDL levels, but you can improve those levels by:

While HDL helps reduce the effects of LDL, extremely high levels of HDL can also be bad for your health.

For LDL, both lifestyle factors and medication can play important roles in managing your levels. ideally, you’ll keep levels within a healthy range with simple but important changes, like:

When these options aren’t enough, medications like statins can help lower your LDL levels and may provide a modest increase in HDL, too.

Don’t leave your cholesterol up to chance

High cholesterol rarely causes symptoms before serious problems develop, so regular cholesterol screening is vital for your health. To check your cholesterol or find out how we can help you manage your cholesterol levels, call 561-658-1522 to request an appointment with the team at Nguyen Medical Group in Boynton Beach, Florida, today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

The Role of Insulin In Your Body

Insulin is one of the most important chemicals your body produces. Thanks to insulin, your body can complete many essential functions. Learn about the role of insulin in your body and treatment for insulin resistance.
What Happens If I Miss My Annual Physical?

What Happens If I Miss My Annual Physical?

There’s nothing better than having the peace of mind that you’re in good health and the tools to help you continue that way by attending an annual physical. Understand what happens if you miss your annual physical and what to do.

5 Reasons to Move From In-Person to Telehealth Appointments

Attending a medical appointment doesn’t always mean driving to a medical office. You can attend many appointments virtually with a device that makes video calls. Here are five reasons to consider doing your next medical appointment over telehealth.
I've Been Diagnosed with Prediabetes: Now What?

I've Been Diagnosed with Prediabetes: Now What?

Before developing diabetes, you might first be diagnosed with prediabetes, which puts you at higher risk for diabetes. Find out more about prediabetes and what you can do if you’ve received this diagnosis.