Kolkata: Cholesterol is a fat-like substance, found in the bloodstream as well as in bodily organs and nerve fibres.
Most cholesterol in the body is made by the liver from a wide variety of foods, especially from saturated fats, such as those found in animal products. A diet high in saturated fat content, heredity and various metabolic conditions such as diabetes mellitus influence an individual’s level of cholesterol.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), cholesterol levels usually rise steadily with age, more steeply in women, and stabilize after middle age. Mean cholesterol levels vary moderately between regions, although never more than 2.0 mmol/l in any age group.
Cholesterol is a key component in the development of atherosclerosis, the accumulation of fatty deposits on the inner lining of arteries. Mainly as a result of this, cholesterol increases the risks of ischaemic heart disease, ischaemic stroke and other vascular diseases.
Cholesterol is transported around the blood in ‘vehicles’ called lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins:
LDL (low density lipoprotein) is the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol. If there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, it can slowly build in the arteries, making them narrower which increases the risk of coronary heart diseases.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) is the ‘good’ type of cholesterol. It helps to remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and returns it to the liver where it is broken down and passed out of the body. (UNI)