What is LDL cholesterol?
This is also known as «bad cholesterol.» Find out about what is it and how to measure it.
What are the normal ranges?
We invite you to read our information on the subject.
We already tell you what is cholesterol and also what is HDL cholesterol, known as the good cholesterol (HDL-C), so today we need to know another fundamental lipoprotein for our body: it is LDL cholesterol, also known as the «bad cholesterol» (C-LDL).
But let’s go over a bit. Most cholesterol is transported in the blood attached to proteins, hence the name of the combination: lipoproteins. Among them are the aforementioned HDL or «good cholesterol» and we can also find LDL, known as «bad cholesterol» and that is our subject today.
LDL means Low Density Lipoproteins. When the cell needs cholesterol for membrane synthesis, it begins to produce LDL receptor proteins, which it then inserts into its plasma membrane.
Once the cholesterol is captured by the membrane proteins, it passes to the lysosomes to later give rise to free cholesterol which is available to the cell for biosynthesis of the membranes. However, when the production of free cholesterol is large and accumulates, the cell stops the synthesis of cholesterol, as well as the synthesis of LDL receptor proteins. Therefore, the cell reduces its production and absorption of cholesterol.
What is LDL cholesterol for?
LDL cholesterol molecules are responsible for transporting cholesterol from the liver to other tissues of our body such as lymphocytes or kidneys. This in normal situations is a key function for our body, however, there are LDL molecules that are not absorbed by peripheral tissues, which are subsequently oxidized and are captured through the receptors of the Mononuclear Phagocyte System (macrophages).
This is where the biggest problem occurs: when the LDL cholesterol molecules increase and oxidize, they are deposited in the arterial intima layer where they are retained, especially in the bifurcations of the arteries. But that is not all, because oxidized LDL molecules favor inflammatory processes and by attracting macrophages, they transform into foam cells that form the basis of the atherosclerotic plaque.
Origin of risk
Regulation of cholesterol absorption does not always work because some individuals inherit defective genes for the production of LDL receptor proteins. Thus, their cells can not capture the cholesterol present in blood, allowing it to accumulate in the walls of veins and arteries.
As a consequence, this genetic failure allows these individuals to have a predisposition to premature atherosclerosis, and therefore, have a greater risk of dying at an early age due to a myocardial infarction due to alterations of the coronary arteries. This, since the LDL receptor may be absent or defective.
On the other hand, it is important to note that not only is there a risk of having high levels of LDL-C due to hereditary factors. This condition is strongly affected by lifestyle, especially in relation to food and physical activity.
It is known that high levels of LDL cholesterol are strongly associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) so it is important to have a balanced diet and reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods.
LDL cholesterol levels
Currently, the American Heart Association (AHA) lists the following ranges to qualify the presence of LDL cholesterol in blood, which are accepted internationally:
Less than 100 mg/dL: Optimal level of LDL cholesterol, corresponding to a reduced level of risk for ischemic heart disease.
100 to 129 mg/dL: LDL level close to optimal
130 to 159 mg/dL: Border with high level of LDL
160 to 189 mg/dL: High level of LDL
190 mg/dL and above: Excessively high level, increased risk of ischemic heart disease.
However, it is important to note that the optimal levels of LDL cholesterol should be determined after a thorough analysis of the risk factors of each patient, an analysis that must be carried out by a medical specialist. This with the aim of detecting other potential risk factors that may influence the analysis such as smoking, diabetes mellitus and arterial hypertension.
For example, levels between 79 and 189 mg/dL are often considered excessively high in diabetic individuals between 40 and 75 years of age, who are at high risk of developing heart disease. The same for people at medium to high risk of heart disease.
Consequences for your health
Having a high level of LDL cholesterol in blood can increase the risk of suffering from some heart disease and other serious health problems due to the formation of «plaque», a fatty substance that sticks to the inner wall of the arteries making them narrower and it can even completely obstruct the circulation of blood.
When this happens and this obstruction prevents the flow of blood to the heart, a heart attack (myocardial infarction) can occur, whereas when the flow of blood to the brain is obstructed, a stroke can occur (cerebral infarction or cerebrovascular accident) and Peripheral arterial disease.
Remember that the only way to measure your cholesterol levels is through a blood test also known as a cholesterol test, lipid profile or lipid panel.
We recommend paying attention to what you eat. Healthy eating is the basis for preventing any type of CVD. Try to eat foods rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Prefers to eat more fruits and vegetables during the day and avoids saturated fats.
Also, if you see that your cholesterol levels have increased you can also try Cardiosmile, a natural product that helps reduce cholesterol. It has no taste or smell so you can add it to the food you prefer. Check your results by consuming only one sachet a day.