On 8:22 AM by NY Drs. Urgent Care
Cholesterol is a fat that is produced by the liver and is crucial for normal body functioning. Cholesterol exists in the outer layer of every cell in our body and has many functions. It's a waxy steroid and is transported in the blood plasma of all animals. 

The function of Cholesterol are as follows:
  • It builds and maintains cell membranes (outer layer), and prevents crystallization of hydrocarbons in the membrane
  • It is essential for determining which molecules can pass into the cell and which cannot
  • It is involved in the production of sex hormones (androgens and estrogens)
  • It is essential for the production of hormones released by the adrenal glands (cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone, and others)
  • It aids in the production of bile
  • It is important for the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K. Amongst many other functions
Cholesterol is carried in the blood by molecules called lipoproteins. A lipoprotein is any complex or compound containing both fat and protein. The three main types are:
 
LDL (low density lipoprotein) - This is often refered to as the "bad cholesterol". It carries cholesterol from the liver to cells. If too much is carried, too much for the cells to use, there can be a harmful buildup of LDL. This lipoprotein can increase the risk of arterial disease if levels rise too high. Most human blood contains approximately 70% LDL, depending on the person.

HDL (high density lipoprotein) - This is often refered to as the "good cholesterol". HDL can prevent arterial disease, as it does the opposite of LDL - HDL takes the cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver. In the liver it's either broken down or expelled from the body as waste.

Triglycerides - These are the chemical forms where most fat exists in the body, as well as in food. Triglycerides, with cholesterol, form the plasma lipids (blood fat). Triglycerides in plasma originate either from fats in our food, or are made in the body from other energy sources, such as carbohydrates. Calories we consume but are not used immediately by our tissues are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. When your body needs energy and there is no food as an energy source, triglycerides will be released from fat cells and used as energy.
The amount of cholesterol in human blood can vary from 3.6 mmol/liter to 7.8 mmol/liter. The National Health Service (NHS), says that any reading over 6 mmol/liter is high, and will significantly raise the risk of arterial disease. The Department of Health recommends a target cholesterol level of under 5 mmo/liter.

Below is a list of cholesterol levels and how most doctors would categorize them:
 
  • Desirable - Less than 200 mg/dL
  • Bordeline high - 200 to 239 mg/dL
  • High - 240 mg/dL and aboveOptimum level: less than 5mmol/liter
  • Mildly high cholesterol level: between 5 to 6.4mmol/liter
  • Moderately high cholesterol level: between 6.5 to 7.8mmol/liter
  • Very high cholesterol level: above 7.8mmol/liter
High cholesterol levels can cause:

Atherosclerosis - narrowing of the arteries.

Higher coronary heart disease risk - an abnormality of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.

Heart attack
- occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to an area of heart muscle is blocked, usually by a clot in a coronary artery. This causes your heart muscle to die.

Angina
- chest pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart muscle does not get enough blood.

Other cardiovascular conditions - diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

Stroke and mini-stroke - occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or vein, interrupting the flow to an area of the brain. Can also occur when a blood vessel breaks. Brain cells begin to die.
If both blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels are high, the risk of developing coronary heart disease rises significantly. So be sure to check on your cholesterol as it can go up and down frequently. Nothing is more important than your health!