The cholesterol panel of biomarkers is used to help assess cardiovascular health. It includes measurements of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), total cholesterol, and triglycerides in your blood. Cholesterol is used by the body to create hormones, support the structure of cells, and protect nerves. It is produced by your liver and obtained from eating animal products, such as meat, cheese, and egg yolks. High cholesterol levels are associated with plaque production in the arteries, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
LDL is a molecule that carries cholesterol in the bloodstream to cells throughout the body, including the cells lining our blood vessels. It is known as “bad cholesterol” because it contributes to the buildup of plaque in blood vessels. The greater your level of LDL, the greater your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
HDL is known as “good cholesterol” because it lowers overall cholesterol levels. It does this by transporting cholesterol from cells back to the liver to be expelled from the body. The more HDL you have in your body, the lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Total cholesterol gives a reading of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood without differentiating between LDL and HDL. The greater your total total cholesterol level, the greater the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Triglycerides are the main form of fats in our body and diet. They transport certain vitamins through the body, provide energy, and help insulate and protect cells. Triglycerides are stored in fat cells and they accumulate when you consume more calories than you burn. Having a higher level of triglycerides in your body puts you at greater risk for cardiovascular diseases.
To decrease cholesterol levels, you can refrain from smoking and exercise regularly. Your healthcare professional may prescribe statins to reduce your cholesterol level.
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