What is LDL Cholesterol ?
LDL is one of the forms of cholesterol, commonly known as “the bad cholesterol”, found in our blood. It stands for
Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol
. The body requires LDL cholesterol in low levels. The desirable LDL level is considered to be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels of LDL cholesterol above 130 mg/dL is considered to be risky with greater chances of getting heart diseases. This article tries to answer the question what is LDL cholesterol.
What is LDL Cholesterol ?
Blood has water as its major component and cholesterol is slightly soluble in water. It is for this reason, that body requires a substance called Lipoprotein. It carries cholesterol in the blood. A Lipoprotein is known to be less dense if it has less protein and more cholesterol within it. Lipoproteins use signals to direct cholesterol to different types of tissues based on their requirement of body fat.
Depending on their density and the signals they produce, Lipoproteins are classfied into certain types. They are chylomicrons, very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in their increasing order of density.
Why LDL is the Bad Cholesterol ?
The heart pumps oxygen rich blood to the entire body. It receives used up blood from every part of the body through its pathways called veins. Then this organ makes the blood rich in oxygen and pumps it back through the other pathways known as arteries. High level of LDL cholesterol beyond its permitted range, leads to blockage of the arteries. This blockage is created by cell debris called plaque.
The heart in such a situation has to work harder to pump blood to the entire body in the presence of plaque. It leads to exhaustion of this organ and causes chest pain initially (technically called Angina). Over time, as the pathways get completely closed, heart attack and other associated complications result.
The name LDL means that the presence of cholesterol is high and proteins are less in this form of fat. When cholesterol level is high in the blood, the formation of cell debris in the arteries and veins of the heart is more. In this way, LDL cholesterol raises the risk of heart diseases and hence the name, bad cholesterol.
It is generally advisable to get the LDL cholesterol level checked for every 5 years, after men cross 45 years and women cross 35 years. It can be done through a test called “Lipid Panel”. In this way, knowledge about questions like what is LDL cholesterol can protect us from the risk of heart diseases.