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Nutrition & Wellness Channel
Reported November 16, 2012

Filtering Out High Cholesterol -- Research Summary

BACKGROUND: Cholesterol is a substance created and used by the human body to keep them healthy. There is ‘good’ cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol, and too much of the bad cholesterol can increase a person’s risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. Cholesterol comes from the human body with the liver and other cells making around 75 percent of blood cholesterol, and the remaining 25 percent of cholesterol comes from food and is only found in animal products. The amount of cholesterol some people’s bodies make is affected by genetics, so family health history may be a good source to understand why someone’s cholesterol is at certain levels despite their lifestyle choices. (Source: American Heart Association)

TYPES: Often times the different types of cholesterol are simply referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol. Below are descriptions and explanations of the two types of cholesterol:

  • HDL (aka ‘good’ cholesterol) – HDL is considered the good cholesterol because it helps keep the ‘bad’ cholesterol from getting lodged into the artery walls, and a healthy HDL level may also prevent against heart attack or stroke. You can increase HDL levels with regular physical activity and by eating a balanced nutritious diet.
  • LDL (aka ‘bad’ cholesterol) – LDL is considered the bad cholesterol because when there is too much of it circulating in the blood it can clog arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Eating saturated fat, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol can raise a person’s LDL levels, but LDL cholesterol is also produced by the body and inherited genes can make some people produce too much. (Source: American Heart Association)

TREATMENT: The first line of treatment for high cholesterol levels, especially high LDL levels, is lifestyle changes such as regularly exercising and limiting the amount of trans and saturated fats a person eats. However, some people will continue to struggle with high cholesterol even after making these lifestyle changes. For these people they may need to take cholesterol medications such as statins, which block a substance the liver needs to make cholesterol, cholesterol absorption inhibitors which limit the absorption of dietary cholesterol, and bile-acid-binding resins, which prompt the liver to use excess cholesterol to make more bile acids. (Source: Mayo Clinic)

LDL APHERESIS: LDL apheresis is a treatment for people with high LDL cholesterol levels who have been unable to lower their cholesterol through diet changes and exercise. The LDL apheresis procedure is similar to kidney dialysis in that the patient’s blood is continually removed and run through a machine that separates plasma. While the blood is returned to the patient through a different vein, the plasma is run through another part of the machine that removes the LDL. The procedure takes about 2 to 3 hours and must be repeated every 2 to 3 weeks. (Source: www.cedars-sinai.edu) MORE

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