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World Family Hypercholesterolemia Day

The different types of cholesterol

When doing tests, you will certainly have heard of "good" and "bad" cholesterol. We usually think that they are different types of cholesterol, but it's not that linear. For the purposes of diagnosis and treatment, it is worth thinking about “types”. However, in practical terms, what varies in these "types" is not the cholesterol itself, but how it is transported in the body and what this transport tells us.

As cholesterol is a fat and does not mix in the blood, it cannot circulate in the bloodstream on its own: it needs a «transport». Therefore, to transport it (and other lipids), the body creates particles made of proteins that easily mix with the blood. These particles are called lipoproteins and they transport cholesterol on its way through the body. However, these transporters - lipoproteins - can have different sizes, characteristics and functions.

LDL-cholesterol (or "bad")

This arises when transport is carried out by low-density lipoproteins (LDL) which are essentially composed of cholesterol (the components of the triglycerides have already been released). This type is known to be bad, not only because it distributes cholesterol through tissues, but also because it can accumulate in the arteries and participate in the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.

HDL-cholesterol (or "good")
This arises when transport is carried out by high-density lipoproteins (HDL). While in the above situations, LDL lipoproteins distribute cholesterol throughout the body, HDL removes it from the circulation and returns it to the liver for excretion. Therefore, having higher values of HDL-cholesterol means having more cholesterol to be eliminated. 

24th September 2021

24, September 2021