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About LDL (Bad Cholesterol)

Cholesterol (ko-LES-ter-ol) is a waxy, fat-like substance your body needs. But too much cholesterol in your blood is not good, because it can build up inside the walls of your blood vessels. The build-up is called plaque (plak). Plaque can block the flow of blood to your heart. This makes your heart work harder. Sometimes, the block can cause a heart attack or stroke.

There are two kinds of cholesterol:

  • LDL (also called "bad" cholesterol)—builds up plaque in arteries
  • HDL (also called "good" cholesterol)—helps the body get rid of cholesterol

This page is about LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. People with high LDL have a higher risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The lower your LDL, the better.

Many things can put you at risk for heart disease. They include:

  • High LDL cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes.
  • Smoking.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Eating unhealthy foods.
  • Not exercising or being active.
  • Stress.

There are a few things you can't control, such as age, gender, and family history. The good news is you can control:

  • LDL.
  • Blood pressure.
  • Your weight.
  • Smoking and eating habits.
  • Exercise.

Controlling your LDL is at the top of the list.

The information on this page was compiled by the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality from a variety of sources, including (but not limited to) National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and American Diabetes Association. This information summarizes core care elements appropriate to adults with this condition. This information should not be construed as representing standards of care nor as a substitute for individualized evaluation and treatment on clinical circumstances by a qualified health care professional. Please see our disclaimer.

For more information about this complex health issue, please see the Cholesterol Links page for resources and information sources.

An initiative of the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with additional funding provided by HealthInsight New Mexico