A couple weeks ago I discussed preventing Heart and Stroke Attacks. One of our readers asked a great question.
Linda asked, "If you have high LDL levels, but excellent HDL levels, do you still need to worry about inflammation? Apparently my “ratio” is considered excellent, but does that mean no problem?"
The simple answer is inflammation can still exist within the walls of the arteries in spite of excellent HDL cholesterol levels. Likewise, people with “normal” LDL levels can also have inflammation in their blood damaging the arterial surfaces, just like the sun overheats and damages asphalt.
Consider the smoker who has healthy cholesterol levels. Their arteries will still be damaged by the toxic by-products of tobacco. People with insulin resistance and pre-diabetes may also have normal cholesterol levels yet are producing significant inflammatory particles which can lead to plaque production. Remember, 50% of people who present to an emergency room with a stroke or heart attack have normal LDL cholesterol levels!
Generally speaking, HDL cholesterol acts to transport the unhealthy LDL cholesterol away from the artery wall. However, we've known for some time that not all HDL works the same way. Five different sized HDL particles have been identified so far, the smaller particles being less effective. Even within the different sized particles, the latest research indicates it may be the genetic variability within the HDL particles that accounts for its effectiveness. Understanding how to make HDL particles more “potent” is where lipid research seems headed.
Yes, it's important to have healthy levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol. It's also important for the long haul to keep the arteries as free as possible from the effects of inflammation. It's not rocket science to appreciate that fruits and vegetables reduce inflammation while saturated fats, high carbohydrate diets and other toxins do just the opposite. Choose well, and live well.
To your good health,
Dr. Larry Greenblatt
For a complete Bio Click on his Page above.