Cholesterol is the fatty substance found in the body. Cholesterol facilitates some of the vital functions in the body such as hormone formation, cell structure and also digestion. However, the estimation of cholesterol ratio in an individual determines a person’s risk of heart disease. Cholesterol ratio is often measured by taking the good cholesterol – high density lipoprotein ratio and bad cholesterol low density lipoprotein ratio. In order to calculate the total cholesterol level, the value of good cholesterol is divided by the total cholesterol. For treatment purposes, it is important that the values pertaining to good cholesterol(HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL) are measured.
Our body transports fats(lipids) and water based blood within a single circulatory system. It uses a combination of fats with protein to form water soluble packages called as lipoproteins so that essential fatty nutrients can be transported in the blood and also that fatty waste products can be carried away from body tissues. Lipoproteins are a complex mixture of triglycerides, cholesterol, phospholipids and special proteins. There are five different sizes of these chemical packages with each holding four distinct chemicals in it. Ultracentrifuge will split blood serum into different layers based on density in a test. They are:
Good cholesterol / High density lipoproteins
High density lipoproteins play a very significant role in the cleaning up excess cholesterol present in the blood vessels to prevent plaque formation thus acting as effective scavengers. The excess cholesterol is transported to the liver for breakdown and excretion. The levels of HDL in the blood determine the intensity of cleaning process of the blood vessels to prevent atherosclerosis leading to coronary artery disease. The level of cholesterol is measured by milligrams per deciliter of the blood. The normal range for HDL in men and women is 60mg/dl or above. Any value below these levels indicates that the individual is susceptible heart disease. Hence the concentration of HDL is inversely related to cardiovascular disease. HDL also pays an important role in lipoprotein metabolism in donating proteins such as Apo c2, Apo E and VLDL.
Increasing good cholesterol in the body
HDL concentrations increase in the body depends on the lifestyle of an individual. Avoiding smoking can effectively raise the levels of HDL in the body. This accounts for 10 percent rise in the HDL level. Obesity is a major cause for cardiovascular disease and many other associated diseases. Losing excess weight in the body can yield in a gradual increase of HDL levels. Exercises pertaining to cardiac activity such as running, brisk walking, swimming, aerobics can enhance the levels of HDL significantly. Alcohol consumption should be limited to moderate. Choosing the right kind of fats in the diet enables increase in good cholesterol levels. Avoiding foods containing saturated and trans fats is advisable. These fats tend to increase the low density lipoproteins which damage the blood vessels. Fats which contain polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated fatty acids are safe and they increase the level of HDL in the body. Foods containing these fatty acids include olives, peanuts, canola, fish etc. These fatty acids improve the anti-inflammatory action of the HDL.
In addition to changes in lifestyle, medications can also help improve the level of HDL in the body subsequently lowering the LDL levels. Therapeutics such as niacin in association with statins and cholestyramine increase the level of HDL. Statins block substances in the liver which makes cholesterol. They also reabsorb excess cholesterol in the artery walls. These drugs are often used in people who have a history of cardiovascular disease. In addition, fibrates such as fenofibrate and gemfibrozil enhance the HDL level.
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Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: April 23, 2019