Knowing your non-HDL cholesterol is important because it may be able to predict your risk of cardiovascular disease even more accurately than your LDL (bad) cholesterol. When you go for a cholesterol test, your results will show several forms of cholesterol because it’s not just your total cholesterol that matters. You must check your non-HDL cholesterol levels frequently. In this write-up, we will discuss what is non hdl cholesterol, different types, symptoms and how to maintain normal level.
What Is Non HDL Cholesterol?
So, what is non hdl cholesterol? Non-HDL cholesterol refers to all cholesterol particles in the bloodstream except for HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. While HDL is considered “good” cholesterol and is cardioprotective, non-HDL comprises the “bad” cholesterol that contributes to plaque buildup and heart disease.
All the non-hdl cholesterol account for most of the body’s cholesterol and are able to penetrate the arterial wall and become deposited as fatty streaks. This atherosclerotic process narrows arteries, impeding blood flow.
High levels of non-HDL cholesterol indicate that a person has elevated numbers of atherogenic particles circulating in their blood. This creates an inflammatory environment inside blood vessels and oxidises LDL molecules, accelerating cardiovascular damage. Testing specifically for non-HDL cholesterol versus routine total cholesterol gives a more accurate picture of cardiac risk.
If you are wondering what is non hdl cholesterol range, the optimal non-HDL cholesterol levels are below 130 mg/dL, while below 100 mg/dL is ideal for those at high risk of cardiovascular diseases. The non-HDL number can be obtained easily by subtracting HDL from total cholesterol. Maintaining lower non-HDL cholesterol through cholesterol-lowering lifestyle changes and medication as needed reduces the risk for heart attack, stroke, and other atherosclerotic disease.
Types of Non-HDL Cholesterol
Now that you know what is non hdl cholesterol, let’s have a look at different types of non-hdl cholesterol:
- LDL Cholesterol: Often called “bad” cholesterol, LDL particles transport cholesterol through the bloodstream and can build up on artery walls, increasing risk of cardiovascular disease. Ideal LDL levels are below 100 mg/dL. Lowering LDL reduces heart attack and stroke risk.
- VLDL Cholesterol: Contains high levels of triglycerides and contributes to fatty plaque deposits in arteries. VLDL transports fat from liver to tissues. Optimal VLDL is under 40 mg/dL. Excess calories can increase VLDL production.
- IDL Cholesterol: An intermediate between VLDL and LDL, IDL has equal cholesterol and triglycerides. Formed as VLDL loses triglycerides, IDL is then converted into LDL particles. No established healthy ranges exist for IDL, but lower levels are better.
- Lipoprotein(a): A special form of LDL that promotes clotting and inflammation. High Lp(a) levels are genetically determined and further increase cardiovascular risk.
- Remnant Lipoproteins: Particles left over after VLDL loses its triglycerides. Like LDL, remnant lipoproteins can accumulate in arteries. Testing for remnant cholesterol is not routine.
Symptoms of Increased Non-HDL Cholesterol Level
If you are looking for what is non hdl cholesterol, you should also be aware of the symptoms of elevated non-HDL cholesterol. Those include-:
a) Chest Pain
Angina or temporary chest pain can occur when plaques partially block arteries supplying the heart. This reduction in blood flow means the heart muscle isn’t receiving enough oxygen. Angina serves as an early warning sign for future heart attack.
b) Erectile Dysfunction
Plaque buildup from high non-HDL cholesterol can restrict blood flow to the penis, making it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection. This can be an early indicator of atherosclerosis.
c) Leg Pain
Blocked arteries in the legs can lead to intermittent limping, cramping or pain known as claudication. This vascular impairment is caused by cholesterol deposits limiting blood flow.
d) Bulging Arteries
Plaque accumulation can lead to a bulging artery in the neck called an aneurysm. While not painful, a bulging artery increases risk of clots and rupture.
e) Carotid Bruit
A whooshing sound heard when pressing on the neck indicates atherosclerotic plaque. A bruit signals reduced blood flow through the carotid arteries to the brain.
f) High Blood Pressure
Cholesterol plaques make arteries inelastic and narrow. To compensate, blood pressure rises to try to increase flow. Hypertension is both a cause and result of arterial cholesterol buildup.
How to Maintain Non-HDL Cholesterol Level?
Managing non-HDL cholesterol focuses on lifestyle changes and medication when needed. Follow these tips to maintain optimal levels below 130 mg/dL:
- Limit saturated fat intake to reduce production of LDL and VLDL particles. Sources like red meat, full-fat dairy and fried foods drive up non-HDL cholesterol.
- Increase healthy unsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts. They help lower LDL while boosting protective HDL.
- Reduce refined carbohydrates including sugary foods, pasta, white bread and rice. Excess carbs increase VLDL secretion and triglycerides.
- Increase soluble fiber from oats, beans, fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibre inhibits cholesterol absorption and decreases the levels of LDL.
- Exercise regularly to boost HDL, burn triglycerides and improve cholesterol regulation. Aim for 30-60 minutes per day of moderate activity which will burn fat and calories.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity is not at all good for our health. Excess weight causes overproduction of VLDL and LDL particles. Losing just 5-10% of weight can improve cholesterol markers.
- Drink alcohol moderately, as excess intake increases triglyceride production and non-HDL levels. Limit to 1 drink daily for women, 2 for men.
- Take omega-3 fish oil supplements to lower triglycerides and increase HDL. Dosages of 2-4 grams daily are effective.
- Quit smoking, which lowers protective HDL and increases LDL and triglycerides. Smoking damages arteries accelerating plaque formation.
- Medications like statins may be prescribed to lower LDL cholesterol if levels remain uncontrolled through lifestyle alone.
This shall clear your doubts on what is non hdl cholesterol. You must check out for the symptoms of elevated non-HDL cholesterol so that treatment can be done at the right time. While maintaining a good balance of all cholesterol kinds may not always be easy, knowing your health history and making wise healthcare decisions can help you reach your wellness goals.