LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein)
Low density lipoprotein is a kind of lipoprotein that has the ability to transport cholesterol into the blood circulation. They are less dense compared to other particles of cholesterol. The smaller the size of LDL particles, the faster they accumulate and grow.
When LDL particles pass through the arteries, they tend to stay in the arterial lining. The white blood cells engulf these LDL particles as a way of protecting the blood vessels and turn the LDL into toxic form. As this process continues, collection of cholesterol and cells formed into a plaque that builds up in the arterial walls, also known as atherosclerosis.
This process could start early in life. Being young is not an excuse! High LDL level can put you in a greater risk of having atherosclerosis and more serious heart conditions, being the reasons why it is the bad cholesterol.
>190 mg/dl – very high
>160 mg/dl – high
130 – 159mg/dl – borderline high
100 -129mg/dl – near optimal
Ways to lower LDL cholesterol:
- Since LDL is directly linked to intake of saturated fat, lessen its intake from our diet.
- Increase our fiber intake. Beside the fact that it is low in calories, fibers cannot be fully digested and absorbed by the body, it makes you feel full and stop your cravings for more, thus helps in reduction of weight.
- Exercise could promote the stimulation of enzymes that moves LDL from bloodstream to the liver where it is being broken down and converted to bile and is excreted from the body through the feces and lower your LDL cholesterol levels.
- Being overweight itself can increase LDL level in the blood, exercise can help maintain your body weight.
Researchers have proven that the intensity of exercise could determine how much LDL is reduced in the blood. The more vigorous the exercise is, the more LDL cholesterol you will lose. Exercise in moderate intensity can also lower LDL levels but not as much compared to vigorous exercises.
It is believed that diet modification and exercise could reduce LDL level by 5-10% and reduce triglyceride levels by 10-30%.
Medication is usually prescribed by your doctor in conjunction with diet modification and exercise, if your blood test revealed an LDL level way beyond normal. Decision to start one on medication will also be dependent on other risk factors such as family history of hypercholesterolemia and heart disease, diabetes, obesity and smoking.
Various types of drugs can help in lowering LDL cholesterol level:
- STATINS- the most common cholesterol-lowering drug. Clinical studies have shown that it reduces the size of plaque in the arteries and significantly lowers the risk for heart disease.
- NIACIN- helps lower LDL cholesterol level and increases HDL level.
- BILE ACID SEQUESTRANTS- its action is to bind bile acids, so that cholesterol will not be absorbed by the small intestine, rather it will be excreted through the feces. If given alone, it doesn’t reduce LDL level that much compared to combining it with other drugs such as Statin or Niacin.