Blood cholesterol level - How they affect your health

Jan 26, 2018,

Blood Cholesterol levels – How they affect your health

Back in the days of biology, we were thought that cells are the building blocks of the human body. Each cell is itself like a house with a foundation called cell membrane. Cholesterol is the building blocks of every cell membrane. In addition, cholesterol is the raw materials for the making of steroid hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids. Steroid hormones are responsible for our being either male or female, our sexuality, and our fertility, our ability to respond to and cope with stress. Without vitamin D, we cannot absorb calcium adequately and our bones will be very brittle. Without bile acids, we cannot digest some component of our food.  In summary, cholesterol is as important in our body as life itself.

How do we get cholesterol?

The body derives cholesterol either by synthesizing them in the liver (virtually all of the cholesterol that the body needs is derived in this form) or directly from food. Cholesterol is transported via the blood by combining with proteins to form lipoproteins. The cholesterol we derive from food also makes its way into the blood to be transported where it is needed. The liver then removes excess dietary cholesterol from the body while maintaining an acceptable level in circulation.

However, when we consume diets that are traditionally high in cholesterol and some types of fats, not only will the liver be overwhelmed in carrying out the function of removing excess cholesterol, it is also forced to produce more cholesterol because those other types of fats become raw material for cholesterol production.

What is the concept of ‘good’ cholesterol, ‘bad’ cholesterol?

Cholesterol is classified by the kind of protein they bind with in circulation, and there are three major classes – Low density lipoprotein (LDL), High density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL). Each of these three classes exhibits different characteristics. LDL cholesterol makes up most (about 60-70percent) of the total cholesterol found in the blood at any particular time. Scientific studies carried out over more than 40 years have revealed that LDL cholesterol has the most tendencies to combine with some materials in the blood and form hard substances called plaques, which can narrow the space inside our blood vessels or block them altogether.

The higher your LDL cholesterol above an acceptable level, the more likely you are to develop these plaques. LDL cholesterol is, therefore, the ‘bad’ cholesterol, while HDL cholesterol (which has the least tendency to cause plaques) is the ‘good’ cholesterol.

What contributes to the risk of having high cholesterol?

There are several factors that increase your risk of having high cholesterol in the blood. Some of them you can do something about, others you can’t do anything about:

  • Overweight and obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Very high-carbohydrate diets
  • Other diseases (type 2 diabetes, chronic renal failure, and nephrotic syndrome)
  • Certain drugs ( like steroids)
  • Genetic factors

What are health issues associated with high cholesterol?

  1. ‘Angina’ chest pain
  2. Heart attack
  3. Strokes
  4. Cold, clammy hands and feet
  5. Calf pain when walking
  6. Leg weakness or numbness
  7. Erectile dysfunction in men

How do I know if I have high cholesterol?

If you don’t have these symptoms yet it is recommended that you check your blood cholesterol at least once every 5years. A lab scientist or your doctor will take your blood and send to the lab for a lipid profile. Your result will then be interpreted to you.

If you need to book a lab test or speak with a doctor, you can log on to or call 0700 770 7000.


Grundy S, Becker D, Clark LT, Cooper RS, Denke MA, Howard J, Hunninghake DB, Illingworth DR, Luepker RV, McBride P, McKenney JM. Detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). Circulation-Hagertown. 2002 Sep; 106(25):3143.




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