Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL)


Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL) is a term that indicates the amount of cholesterol carried by the LDL particle. It is commonly referred to as the “bad” cholesterol because is can indicate an increased risk of heart disease when the levels are high. It is actually the LDL particle that does the damage. The cholesterol is its cargo. As a result of increase particles and their activity, LDL can build up with other substances on the walls of the arteries that circulate blood to the heart and other organs. Over time this build up becomes a thick hardened deposit that has the potential to block the artery entirely.1 If the blockage occurs in the heart, it causes a heart attack; if the blockage occurs in the brain, it causes a stroke. In addition to the slowly occurring risk of arterial blockage, the build up of cholesterol can suddenly rupture, causing more than 90% of all heart attacks and strokes.2

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the LDL cholesterol level is a better indicator of risk for a heart attack and stroke than is total cholesterol. The higher the LDL, the higher the risk for heart disease or stroke.3


1 What’s the Difference Between LDL and HDL Cholesterol? American Heart Association. 2006. www.americanheart.org

2 Guyton, J.R. Lipid Metabolism and Atherogenesis Overview. Lecture, May 26, 2006.

3 High Blood Cholesterol. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. February, 2006. www.nhlbi.nih.gov

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