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Cholesterol is a soft waxy substance found among the lipids fats in the bloodstream and in all your bodys cells Its an important part of a healthy body because its used to form cell membranes some hormones and other needed tissues But a high level of cholesterol in the blood - hypercholesterolemia - is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease which leads to heart attack Cholesterol and other fats cant dissolve in the blood They have to be transported to and from the cells by special carriers called lipoproteins There are several kinds but the ones to be most concerned about are low-density lipoprotein LDL and high-density lipoprotein HDL Low-density lipoprotein is the major cholesterol carrier in the blood If too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood it can slowly build up in the walls of the arteries feeding the heart and brain Together with other substances it can form plaque a thick hard deposit that can clog those arteries This condition is known as atherosclerosis A clot thrombus that forms in the region of this plaque can block the flow of blood to part of the heart muscle and cause a heart attack If a clot blocks the flow of blood to part of the brain the result is a stroke A high level of LDL cholesterol more than 130 mgdL reflects an increased risk of heart disease Thats why LDL cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol Lower levels of LDL cholesterol reflect a lower risk of heart disease About one-third to one-fourth of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoprotein or HDL Medical experts think HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver where its passed from the body Some experts believe HDL removes excess cholesterol from atherosclerotic plaques and thus slows their growth HDL cholesterol is known as good cholesterol because a high level of HDL seems to
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