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Cholesterol : friend and foe

Cholesterol can be found in the human body in the blood and liver. Our body cannot function without cholesterol. Cholesterol is necessary to produce certain hormones, vitamin D, ... .

The blood, however, contains two important forms of cholesterol: LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. Together, they constitute total cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol transports the cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood it may stick to the walls of the coronary arteries. This is why LDL cholesterol is also known as ‘bad cholesterol’. The lower the LDL cholesterol, the lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

HDL cholesterol is responsible for the transport from your tissue to the liver where the body breaks down cholesterol. HDL cholesterol reduces the chances that high cholesterol concentrations occur. This is why HDL cholesterol is also known as ‘good cholesterol’. The lower the HDL cholesterol, the higher the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

If a lot of LDL cholesterol is deposited against the walls of your arteries, these arteries constrict. This constriction is also known as arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. The risk that the blood flow to the heart or brain is interrupted, increases. And this can have dire consequences of course.

Reliable tables exist that predict your cardiovascular risk taking into account your age, gender, smoking behaviour, total blood cholesterol level and systolic blood pressure. The desired LDL cholesterol levels depend on your cardiovascular risk. Your doctor or specialist will gladly give you more information if you have a medical examination!

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