Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body’s cells. Having too much cholesterol in your blood may lead to increased risk for heart disease and stroke. About half of American adults have levels that are too high. The good news is that you can take steps to control your cholesterol.
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
Cholesterol and other fats can’t dissolve in your blood. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is often called “the bad kind.” When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, it can join with fats and other substances to build up in the inner walls of your arteries. The arteries can become clogged and narrow, and blood flow is reduced. If this buildup of plaque bursts, a blood clot may form at this location or a piece may break off and travel in the bloodstream. If a blood clot blocks the blood flow to your heart, it causes a heart attack. If a blood clot blocks an artery leading to or in the brain, a stroke results.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
A “good kind” of cholesterol, on the other hand, is called high-density lipoprotein (HDL). It carries harmful cholesterol away from the arteries and helps protect you from heart attack and stroke. It’s better to have a lot of HDL cholesterol in your blood.
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. They’re also a major energy source. They come from food and your body also makes them. High levels of blood triglycerides are often found in people who have high cholesterol levels, heart problems, are overweight or have diabetes.
Last Physician Review - January 13, 2015