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How is HDL related to high cholesterol?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is considered a good cholesterol and helps to clear away excess fatty tissues in the blood stream. While LDL supplies the cholesterol to cells, HDL clears it away and delivers it to the liver. HDL helps prevent against heart disease. An HDL blood level of 60 mg/dL or more is very healthy and will help you to lower your total cholesterol and risk for heart disease.

HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein. It represents the vehicle or carrying particle for cholesterol that is often thought of as "good". HDL can be measured in many different ways, the most common being HDL-C which stands for HDL Cholesterol, and tells us how much cholesterol is carried in the HDL particles. When the total amount of cholesterol in the body increases, often the amount of HDL Cholesterol can increase also. We often think of HDL cholesterol as being protective, however, this is not always the case. Some people who have high levels of HDL cholesterol may absorb more cholesterol in the intestine, and some may simply make more of it. HDL cholesterol can be increased also by alcohol intake and by estrogen. Diets containing increased saturated fat can also increase HDL cholesterol. We have no good information yet that tells us trying to increase HDL cholesterol is beneficial.
Dr. Dean G. Karalis, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is also called “good cholesterol”.  Studies have shown that low levels of HDL-cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of heart disease while high levels are associated with a lower risk.  Diet and exercise can raise HDL-cholesterol; however drug therapy to raise HDL-cholesterol has not shown a reduction in cardiac events.  If an individual is found to have a low level of HDL-cholesterol it should prompt a thorough evaluation to identify and treat any other cardiac risk factors present.  Lifestyle changes should be implemented to raise low HDL-cholesterol.  With regards to drug therapy to treat low HDL-cholesterol, the current evidence supports that lipid-lowering therapy should target LDL and non-HDL cholesterol, not the level of HDL-cholesterol itself.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.