Cholesterol is a vital, naturally-produced substance in our body. Problems arise when blood tests show a build-up in cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia).
Some foods are processed by our system, absorbed and then transformed in the liver into two kinds of lipids: cholesterol and triglycerides. Cholesterol and triglycerides are then incorporated into specific structures (called lipoproteins) to be metabolized by the system and carried through the bloodstream. There are two kinds of lipoproteins: VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein).
Some blood cells can intercept LDL and deposit it on the artery walls causing a hardening and narrowing of the arteries. This process is called atherosclerosis and is a key risk factor in cardiovascular diseases. This is the reason why LDL is commonly called “bad cholesterol” unlike the “good cholesterol” (HDL) that helps to clear the blood vessels carrying LDL back into the liver.
High cholesterol unfortunately has no clinically visible symptoms in the early stages, but if neglected, can cause severe health risks. Therefore it is necessary, especially for people at risk, to keep monitoring blood levels and have regular blood tests.