HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or the "good" cholesterol, and LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or the "bad" cholesterol, are lipoproteins that carry cholesterol through the veins and arteries of the body. HDL and LDL combined, is your "total" blood cholesterol. The difference between the two are that high levels of the "good," or HDL cholesterol, may protect against narrowing of the blood vessels in the body, which protects you against heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. But high levels of LDL, or the "bad" cholesterol, may worsen the narrowing of the blood vessels in the body, which puts you at a greater risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular diseases, some of which are life threatening.Triglycerides are found in body fat and from the fats you eat. Read more: HDL vs. LDL Cholesterol (Good and Bad) Article
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
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Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes
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Cholesterol Drugs: What to Expect With Heart Medication
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Cholesterol: High Triglyceride Foods to Avoid
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Food Swaps for Meals and Snacks for Heart Health in Pictures
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How to Lower Your Cholesterol & Save Your Heart
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Healthy Eating: 16 Resolutions for Better Habits
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Exercise Tips for Seniors
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Omega 3 Foods: Health Benefits, Research, Best Supplements
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Diet and Nutrition Quiz: Plans & Facts
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Triglycerides Quiz: Are Yours Normal?
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Sugar Quiz: Facts on Diet & Sugar
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High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
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Salt Quiz: Test Your Diet IQ
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Heart Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
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Related Disease Conditions
Lowering Triglycerides Naturally
Trigylcerides are fatty molecules that travel in the bloodstream. Excess sugar and fat can increase triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are also manufactured in the liver. The body uses triglycerides for energy, but excess triglycerides are a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and obesity. Many lifestyle factors can influence triglyceride levels.
Healthy Living and Disease Prevention
The importance of a healthy lifestyle in disease prevention is widely understood and most people know that lifestyle changes and choices can be critical to good health. Yet, few practice healthy behaviors that constitute healthy living.
Heart Attack Symptoms and Early Warning Signs
Recognizing heart attack symptoms and signs can help save your life or that of someone you love. Some heart attack symptoms, including left arm pain and chest pain, are well known but other, more nonspecific symptoms may be associated with a heart attack. Nausea, vomiting, malaise, indigestion, sweating, shortness of breath, and fatigue may signal a heart attack. Heart attack symptoms and signs in women may differ from those in men.
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Heart disease can lead to heart attack. Risk factors for heart disease include: Smoking High blood pressure High cholesterol Diabetes Family history Obesity Angina, shortness of breath, and sweating are just a few symptoms that may indicate a heart attack. Treatment of heart disease involves control of heart disease risk factors through lifestyle changes, medications, and/or stenting or bypass surgery. Heart disease can be prevented by controlling heart disease risk factors.
Diabetes Symptoms in Women
Diabetes symptoms in women include vaginal itching, pain, or discharge, loss if interest or pain after having sex, polycystic ovarian syndrome (POS), and urinary tract infections or UTIs (which are more common in women. Symptoms of diabetes that are the same in women and men are excessive thirst and hunger, bad breath, and skin infections, darkening of skin in areas of body creases (acanthosis nigricans), breath odor that is fruity, sweet, or acetone, and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, blurred vision, fatigue, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, wounds that heal slowly, irritability, and weight loss or gain. Complications of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the same, for example, skin, eye, and circulation problems, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), ketoacidosis, and amputation. If diabetes is not managed a person may not survive.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and brain. While there are many causes of peripheral vascular disease, doctors commonly use the term peripheral vascular disease to refer to peripheral artery disease (peripheral arterial disease, PAD), a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis. Peripheral artery disease symptoms include intermittent leg pain while walking, leg pain at rest, numbness in the legs or feet, and poor wound healing in the legs or feet. Treatment for peripheral artery disease include lifestyle measures, medication, angioplasty, and surgery.
Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)
A heart attack happens when a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. A heart attack can cause chest pain, heart failure, and electrical instability of the heart.
Cholesterol (Lowering Your Cholesterol)
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Getting your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in an optimal range will help protect your heart and blood vessels. Cholesterol management may include lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) as well as medications to get your total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides in an optimal range.
Gallstones are stones that form when substances in the bile harden. Gallstones (formed in the gallbladder) can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. There can be just one large stone, hundreds of tiny stones, or any combination. The majority of gallstones do not cause signs or symptoms; however, when they do occur the primary sign is biliary colic. Symptoms of biliary colic are constant pain for 15 minutes to 4-5 hours, and it may vary in intensity; nausea, severe pain that does not worsen with movement; and pain beneath the sternum. Treatment of gallstones depends upon the patient and the clinical situation.
Lower Cholesterol Levels with Diet and Medications
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered "good" cholesterol because it actually works to keep the LDL or "bad" cholesterol from building up in your arteries. Foods like extra lean meats, skim milk, and vegetable-based "butter-like" substitutes may help decrease LDL levels in the bloodstream.
Fatty Liver (NASH)
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NASH occurs due to the accumulation of abnormal amounts of fat within the liver. Fatty liver most likely caused by obesity and diabetes. Symptoms of fatty liver disease are primarily the complications of cirrhosis of the liver; and may include mental changes, liver cancer, the accumulation of fluid in the body (ascites, edema), and gastrointestinal bleeding. Treatment for fatty liver includes avoiding certain foods and alcohol. Exercise, weight loss, bariatric surgery, and liver transplantation are treatments for fatty liver disease.
What Is the Normal Range for Cholesterol Levels?
What is the normal range for cholesterol levels? Learn what cholesterol levels are, why cholesterol levels change, how doctors diagnose cholesterol levels, and what you can do to treat high cholesterol levels.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that help decrease one's cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Omega-3s are found in salmon, sardines, walnuts, and canola oil. These fats may help reduce the risk of ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac death.
Vascular disease includes any condition that affects your circulatory system. Vascular disease ranges from diseases of your arteries, veins and lymph vessels to blood disorders that affect circulation.
Fitness: Exercises for a Healthy Heart
Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease. To achieve maximum benefits, do a mix of stretching exercises, aerobic activity, and strengthening exercise. Aim to get 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three to four times a week. Consult a doctor before exercising for the first time, especially if you have health problems.
How Dangerous Is High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an important molecule that serves many vital functions in the body. High cholesterol is dangerous because it may lead to atherosclerosis, which can result in conditions such as angina, heart attack, stroke and hypertension.
Heart Attack Pathology: Photo Essay
A heart attack is a layperson's term for a sudden blockage of a coronary artery. This photo essay includes graphics, pictures, and illustrations of diseased heart tissue and the mechanisms that lead to coronary artery disease, and possible heart attack. A coronary artery occlusion may be fatal, but most patients survive it. Death can occur when the occlusion leads to an abnormal heartbeat (severe arrhythmia) or death of heart muscle (extensive myocardial infarction).
What Does It Mean to Have Hyperlipidemia?
Hyperlipidemia is a common issue that affects many people and has serious complications if left untreated. Learn the signs of hyperlipidemia, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
Heart Disease in Women
Heart disease in women has somewhat different symptoms, risk factors, and treatment compared to heart disease in men. Many women and health professionals are not aware of the risk factors for heart disease in women and may delay diagnosis and treatment. Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, tobacco use, overweight/obesity, stress, alcohol consumption, and depression influence heart disease risk in women. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes also increase women's risk of heart disease. Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), stress-ECG, endothelial testing, ankle-brachial index (ABI), echocardiogram, nuclear imaging, electron beam CT, and lab tests to assess blood lipids and biomarkers of inflammation are used to diagnose heart disease. Early diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women saves lives. Heart disease can be prevented and reversed with lifestyle changes.
High Cholesterol: Frequently Asked Questions
Cholesterol occurs naturally in the body. High blood cholesterol levels increase a person's risk of developing heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, TIAs, and more. In addition to medication (fibrates, statins, bile acid sequestrants, and niacin), lifestyle changes can be made to lower blood cholesterol levels
Heart Attack Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management. Symptoms of heart attack in men and women include chest discomfort and pain in the shoulder, neck, jaw, stomach, or back.
Vitamins & Exercise: Heart Attack Prevention Series
Vitamins and exercise can lower your risk for heart attack and heart disease. Folic acid, vitamins, and homocysteine levels are interconnected and affect your risk for heart disease or heart attack. For better heart health, avoid the following fried foods, hard margarine, commercial baked goods, most packaged and processed snack foods, high fat dairy, and processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats.
Heart Attack Prevention Overview
Heart attacks are the major causes of unexpected, sudden death among men and women. A heart attack also is a significant cause of heart failure. The process of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) begins early in life. Heart attack prevention should begin in childhood because the atherosclerosis process can not be reversed. The risk of having a heart attack increases if you have diseases or conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and other heart conditions.
Disease Prevention in Men
Disease prevention in men includes routine screening tests that are part of basic prevention medicine. Take an active role in your own health care and discuss screening tests with your doctor early in life. Age of screening and timing of screening depends upon the condition being assessed.
Disease Prevention in Women
Disease prevention in women includes screening tests that are a basic part of prevention medicine. All screening tests are commonly available through your general doctor. Some specialized tests may be available elsewhere.
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Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- rosuvastatin, Crestor
- Zocor (simvastatin) vs. Crestor (rosuvastatin)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin) vs. Zetia (ezetimibe)
- atorvastatin (Lipitor) vs. simvastatin (Zocor)
- Zocor (simvastatin)
- pravastatin (Pravichol)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin) vs. Niacin (nicotinic acid, vitamin B3)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin) vs. Vytorin (simvastatin and ezetimibe)
- lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev)
- fluvastatin (Lescol, Lescol XL)
- Livalo (pitavastatin)
- Repatha (evolocumab)
- Side Effects of Lopid (gemfibrozil)
- Ezallor (rosuvastatin)
- Pravachol (pravastatin)
- Juxtapid (lomitapide)
- Zypitamag (pitavastatin)
- FloLipid (simvastatin)
- Liptruzet (ezetimibe and atorvastatin)
- Nikita (pitavastatin)
Prevention & Wellness
- Fewer Americans Have High Cholesterol
- Americans' Cholesterol Levels Decline: Study
- Even Small Improvements in Cholesterol, Blood Pressure Help Prevent Heart Attack
- More Evidence Fried Food Ups Heart Disease, Stroke Risk
- High LDL Cholesterol Tied to Early-Onset Alzheimer's
- Blood Banks Could Help Screen for Hereditary High Cholesterol
- AHA News: Dangerous Blood Clots May Be the Latest Risk From 'Bad' Cholesterol
- Could Very Low 'Bad' Cholesterol Bring Stroke Danger?
- Foods to Lower Your Cholesterol Count
- Fast Facts for Men (and Women) About High Cholesterol
- New Cholesterol Guidelines Focus on Personalized Approach
- Could Too Much 'Good' HDL Cholesterol Be Bad for Your Heart?
- When 'Good' Cholesterol Is Bad for Older Women
- Most With Very High Cholesterol Missing Out on Right Meds
- Health Tip: Suggestions to Improve Your Cholesterol
- Many Patients Denied Costly New Cholesterol Drugs