Cholesterol is a fat-like substance made by your liver and also comes from foods you intake that is then packaged into particles called lipoproteins. This brochure explains the differences between "bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and "good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and their effects on the body.
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LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and HDL (Good) Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance made by your liver and also comes from foods you eat. Your liver packages it into particles called lipoproteins.
Why Cholesterol Is Important
Your body needs cholesterol to make:
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it's important to understand what cholesterol is and why you need to keep it under control.
"Bad" and "Good" Cholesterol
There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol:
How LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Works
LDL travels through your bloodstream, delivering cholesterol to the cells that need it. If your body has too much LDL, it can build up in the walls of your arteries.
LDL and other substances in your artery wall form a fatty deposit called plaque. Over time, plaque can narrow the artery and reduce blood flow. LDL carries cholesterol into the plaque, this is why LDL is called the "bad" cholesterol.
This plaque buildup causes coronary artery disease and increases your risk of a heart attack.
Plaque buildup in other arteries, such as the carotid arteries in your neck, can reduce blood flow to your brain and increase the risk of a stroke.
How HDL ("Good") Cholesterol Works
Your liver also makes high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, also known as the "good" cholesterol.
HDL helps remove excess cholesterol from your cells, tissues and from plaque in your blood vessels. This is why HDL is called the "good" cholesterol.
HDL returns the excess cholesterol to your liver, which removes it from your body.
Speak to Your Healthcare Provider if You Have:
It is important to take your medications as directed by your provider, and report any side effects you experience.
The information in this handout has been created and peer reviewed by graduate-level medical illustrators, followed by reviews from medical subject experts, either physicians or PhDs on the Nucleus Medical Review Board, to ensure medical accuracy and audience level appropriateness.
The handout is intended to supplement the information you receive from your healthcare provider and should never be considered personal medical advice. Always contact your healthcare provider with health questions and concerns.