Back to basics for heart health
Baylor College of Medicine say the first step to taking control of your health and preventing cardiovascular disease is understanding the basics and what they represent for your heart.
Dr. Christie Ballantyne, professor of medicine and chief of the section of cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine, explains:
Cholesterol is naturally occurring in the body and is important for proper cell and hormone function; in addition to being absorbed in the diet, cholesterol is made in the body, and the liver is a key organ for cholesterol metabolism. Cholesterol is carried through the blood stream by lipoproteins – low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good" cholesterol). Optimal levels can depend on age, sex or other health factors so it is important to talk to your doctor to understand your risk of heart disease or stroke.
LDL Cholesterol & HDL Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad” cholesterol because it is responsible for clogged arteries. Optimal LDL cholesterol levels are less than 100 mg/dL. HDL cholesterol is considered the “good” cholesterol because people with higher levels have less heart disease. Optimal levels are considered 60 mg/dL or higher, and low HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL is a marker of increased risk for heart disease.
Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) that are used to transport and store energy. Less than 150 mg/dL is considered healthy, and more than 200 mg/dL is high.
Overall, healthy total cholesterol levels, which includes LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, are less than 200 mg/dL.