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High Cholesterol Levels

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat) found in your blood, that your body needs. 

Your body gets cholesterol from 2 sources: 

  1. Your liver
  2.  Animal food products (if they are part of your diet)

Types of cholesterol

There are three types of cholesterol.

  1. Low density lipoproteins (LDL): the "bad cholesterol" including lipoprotein a [often called Lp(a)]
  2. High density lipoproteins (HDL): the "good cholesterol"
  3. Triglycerides: a form of fat carried in the blood that contributes to the fat that is stored in the body’s tissues. High-fat foods, sugar and alcohol contribute to high levels of triglycerides.


Desirable cholesterol levels

  • Total cholesterol: Less than 4.5 mmol/L
  • HDL cholesterol: Greater than 1.0 mmol/L
  • LDL cholesterol: At least less than 1.8 mmol/L or a 50% reduction if you are at risk of or have a cardiovascular condition. If it is not your case, a LDL lower than 2.0 mmol/L is suggested.
  • Lp(a): Less than 50 mg/dL (or less than 100 nmol/L)
  • Triglycerides: Less than 1.7 mmol/L
  • Total Cholesterol to HDL Cholesterol Ratio: Less than 4.0


Why is Cholesterol a Risk Factor?

Too much LDL (bad) cholesterol contributes to a buildup of plaque in the arteries of your heart (coronary arteries). LDL acts like a dump truck, carrying cholesterol to your arteries where it collects and causes blockages. A blockage can reduce blood flow to your heart and lead to a heart attack. Learn what happens during a heart attack »

Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol also increase your risk for heart disease. HDL cholesterol acts like a garbage truck, taking LDL cholesterol away from your arteries so that it can be flushed out of your body by your liver. 

High levels of triglycerides increase the chance that you will develop obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Learn More About Cholesterol

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