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What is LDL cholesterol (low density lipoproteins)?

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol is necessary for important body functions, but in excess, it can accumulate on artery walls, contributing to atherosclerosis. LDL cholesterol is the most abundant cholesterol carrier in the body and contributes greatest to the build up of plaque on artery walls. Plaque forms when LDL combines with other substances and sticks to the walls of arteries. Decreasing the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood is an important part of decreasing risk of heart disease.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) refers to a type of lipoprotein which carry cholesterol in the blood and around the body. There is a link between high LDL levels and cardiovascular disease. Generally, LDL transports cholesterol and triglycerides away from cells and tissues that produce more than they use and towards cells and tissues that are taking up cholesterol and triglycerides.

Increasing evidence suggests that the concentration and size of the LDL particles has a stronger relation to the progression of atherosclerosis than the concentration of cholesterol contained within all the LDL particles. Having low concentrations of large LDL particles is considered a healthy pattern while high concentrations of small LDL particles, despite the same total cholesterol content, is considered an unhealthy pattern indicating a much more likely and faster growth of atheroma and progression of atherosclerosis. LDL is formed as VLDL lipoproteins lose triglycerides through the action of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) becoming smaller, denser and contain a higher proportion of cholesterol. High LDL counts are associated with terms such as hyperlipoproteinemia and familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

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