Lipoproteins

Lipoproteins are transport carriers made of protein and different types of fat (cholesterol). In small amounts, cholesterol is important because it is used to form cell membranes and certain hormones. Cholesterol is also needed for other essential body functions. Cholesterol, which is a soft, waxy substance, does not mix with blood, which is watery. Cholesterol is transported in the blood via lipoproteins. High levels of certain lipoproteins can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke because they attach to, and build up on, artery walls. These fatty deposits make it difficult for blood to flow through the arteries.

There are 3 types of lipoproteins:

  • Low Density liprotein (LDL):

  • LDL or "bad" cholesterol carries cholesterol particles throughout the blood stream. LDL cholesterol builds up on the artery walls, making them hard and narrow. The more LDL cholesterol you have in your blood, the greater your risk of heart disease. LDL levels less than 100 mg/dL are optimal.

  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL):

  • HDL or "good" cholesterol helps to protect against heart attack. Low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL in men and less than 50 mg/dL in women) can increase the risk of heart disease. HDL attaches itself to excess cholesterol and takes it to the liver. From there, the excess cholesterol is processed and excreted from the body. An optimal HDL level is 60 mg/dL and above.

  • Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL):

  • This type of cholesterol contains a specific type of fat (triglycerides). VLDL cholesterol makes LDL cholesterol particles larger and is considered a "bad" fat. A high level of VLDL can increase the risk of heart disease. VLDL levels less than 30 mg/dL are optimal.

DIAGNOSIS

The above levels are determined through blood testing. Your caregiver will draw your blood and look at your levels. If your LDL and VLDL levels are high and your HDL is low, your caregiver may recommend:

  • Medicine.

  • Weight loss.

  • A change in eating habits.

Immediate measures you can take are:

  • Quitting smoking.

  • Exercising. Excess weight can lead to numerous health problems.

  • Eating a healthy diet. Focus on whole grain breads, lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Avoid fast food, fried food, and high fat food.

  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation. A man should limit his alcoholic intake to 2 drinks a day. A woman should limit her alcoholic intake to 1 drink a day.

  • Taking cholesterol lowering medicines as instructed (if prescribed). Make sure you follow up with your caregiver as instructed.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.