Q. What is good and bad cholesterol?
A. Our bodies need cholesterol – a fatty substance in the blood – to function normally. But too much cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease – the number one killer of American women and men.
There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “lousy” or “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “happy” or “good” cholesterol. LDL causes cholesterol to build up in the blood. The “good” cholesterol, HDL, helps remove cholesterol from the blood.
Cholesterol values are measured by a simple blood test. Aim for a total cholesterol less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Generally, the lower the LDL number, the better. Your ideal LDL level should be less than 100. Since the “good” HDL helps protect against heart disease, higher numbers are better. Aim for an HDL between 40 and 59—or even higher. HDL levels below 40 increase the risk of heart disease.
Victor O. Kolade, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Board-certified in internal medicine
Academic Internal Medicine Practice
975 E. Third St., Suite B-601
Chattanooga, TN 37403