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Anon. asked...

HDL cholesterol levels

I recently had a cholesterol check and discovered I have what looks like very high levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. Whilst I gather this is good, is it possible for your HDL levels to be too high? If relevant, my blood pressure if fine (low rather than high, but not too low).

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The answer

Cholesterol levels are a good indicator as to your wellbeing and essentially the physical health of your arteries and therefore good for helping prevent coronary heart disease.

Ideally your cholesterol levels should be checked every 5 years from the age of 20 but most specifically from the age of 35 upwards.

Cholesterol levels are also known as lipid levels and are checked by obtaining a blood sample and checking the blood profiles for specific cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

HDL (High Density Lipid) Cholesterol is known as the good cholesterol as this is more protein based and is essential for mopping up the excess cholesterol and transporting it to the liver to be broken down and excreted by the body.

Ideally the HDL level should be above 60mg/dl to be beneficial at helping prevent coronary heart disease.

HDL cholesterol contains two types of proteins apoA-I and apoA-II.

The protein apoA-I is particularly essential in the mopping up cholesterol process and it is particularly important that this level is the highest. Its function is of an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant nature.

The protein apoA-II function is not really known but too high a level of this protein can prevent the apoA-I protein from replenishing and working properly.

LDL(Low Density Lipid) cholesterol is the cholesterol which is bad and this causes the build up of fatty deposits and hardening of the arteries. Too much of the HDL protein apoA-II can also contribute to this.

Triglycerides are the fats carried in the blood from the food we eat and any excess calories get broken down into these. Triglycerides are stored in fat cells all over the body.

The triglyceride levels are more likely to raise if the apoA-II level is too high as the HDL mopping up mode is not being as effective.

The Total Cholesterol level is looking at all these components and is the significant figure for enlightening you about the health of the arteries.

So, in answer to your question, the higher the HDL level the better providing it is the apoA-I protein which is more prevalent.

In relation to maintaining good cholesterol levels it is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle – reducing weight and smoking and of course including exercise into your routine too.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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