Cholesterol : HDL, LDL, VLDL and Triglycerides

Blood Reports are sometimes confusing, especially when you look at cholesterol levels. Terms like HDL, LDL, VLDL and triglycerides seems likes different types of fats floating in our blood vessels. Which cholesterol is good and which one is bad, which one should be high and which one should be low. Such questions about blood cholesterol will be answered in this article.

Full forms of Terms :

  • HDL : High-Density Lipoprotein (Good Cholesterol)
  • LDL : Low-Density Lipoprotein (Bad Cholesterol)
  • VLDL : Very Low-Density Lipoprotein (Bad Cholesterol)

Formulas used in Cholesterol reports :

  • VLDL =  20% of Serum Triglycerides
  • Non-HDL = LDL + VLDL
  • Serum Cholesterol (Total Cholesterol) = HDL + LDL + VLDL
  • TG/HDL Ratio = Serum Triglycerides / HDL

What are triglycerides ?

Triglycerides are made by excess calories in your diet. It is the most common fat in our body that our body can generate itself. You can easily control triglycerides level by controlling your diet and regular physical workout. High triglycerides level indicate that the person is overweight. In most of the cases high triglycerides level comes with lower levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

Why LDL and VLDL are considered as bad cholesterol ?

LDL and VLDL has got the ability to buildup on the walls of blood vessels. It makes the wall thicker and the inner volume of blood vessels get reduced. Narrow arteries make it harder for blood to flow properly and causes excess workload on the heart. It increases the chances of cardiovascular diseases. Saturated and trans fat in our diet tends to raise LDL cholesterol.

There is no direct way of measuring VLDL, so it is assumed to be 20% (one-fifth) of serum triglycerides level. However this assumption can't be true if triglycerides level is too high.

Why HDL is considered as good cholesterol ?

 HDL protects against heart attack and stroke, thus known as good cholesterol. HDL has got the ability to dissolve the bad cholesterol (LDL and VLDL) from you blood vessels and take it to liver for further processing. Thus high level of HDL cures you from bad effects of LDL. Apart from diabetes and smoking, factors like overweight and sedentary lifestyle can lower the HDL level. HDL in your blood vessels don't get deposited on walls. 

You can improve your HDL levels and lower your triglycerides by doing moderate intensity workout regularly for a week.

Cholesterol Levels for age group 20 - 60

At Risk 

Men: <40
Women: <50
LDL<100High: 160-189
Very High: >190
<130High: >159
Triglycerides (TG)<150High: 200-499
Very High: >500
TG/HDL Ratio<3High: >3.8
LDL/HDL Ratio<2.5High: >3.3
CHOL/HDL RatioMen: <3.5
Women: <3
Men: >5
Women: >4.4
Very High : >6
Total Cholesterol125 - 200>240

Cholesterol Levels for Kids aged 6 -19

At Risk 
LDL<110High: >130
Very High : >190
Non HDL<120
Triglycerides<150High 200-499
VeryHigh >500
Total Cholesterol<170> 200

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