What is vldl cholesterol?

By John Powell
Updated 2024-04-10 04:41:20 | Published 2018-12-11 11:37:46
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VLDL cholesterol

VLDL cholesterol, or very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, is one of the most aggressive types of cholesterol. When present in excess, it deposits on the walls of blood vessels in the form of plaques, which can restrict blood circulation and make vessels more rigid, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This significantly increases the risk of heart diseases, such as ischemic heart disease and heart attacks, as well as stroke.

VLDL cholesterol is also the primary carrier of another type of fat in the body called triglycerides. Elevated triglyceride levels can also contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. The liver produces a sufficient amount of cholesterol and triglycerides, but some of these fats are also supplied through food, primarily from meat and dairy products. If a person has a hereditary predisposition to increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels or consumes an excess of cholesterol-rich food, blood cholesterol levels can rise and pose a risk to the body.

Elevated VLDL cholesterol levels can be caused by hereditary predisposition (familial hypercholesterolemia) or excessive consumption of food rich in animal fats. In most people with high cholesterol levels, both factors are involved. Other possible causes of increased VLDL cholesterol include:

  • Cholestasis or bile stagnation, which can be caused by liver disease (hepatitis, cirrhosis) or gallstones
  • Chronic kidney inflammation leading to nephrotic syndrome
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Decreased thyroid gland function (hypothyroidism)
  • Poorly managed diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatic or prostate cancer

Lowered VLDL cholesterol levels have no particular clinical significance but can be observed in the following conditions:

  • Familial hypercholesterolemia
  • Severe liver disease
  • Oncological bone marrow diseases
  • Increased thyroid gland function (hyperthyroidism)
  • Inflammatory joint diseases
  • B12 or folate deficiency anemia
  • Extensive burns
  • Acute diseases or infections
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Factors that can increase VLDL cholesterol levels include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Prolonged fasting
  • Blood donation while standing
  • Anabolic steroids, androgens, corticosteroids
  • Smoking
  • Meals containing animal fats

Factors that can decrease VLDL cholesterol levels include:

  • Staying in a lying position
  • Medications such as allopurinol, clofibrate, colchicine, antifungal medicines, statins, cholestyramine, erythromycin, and estrogen
  • Intensive physical activity
  • A diet low in cholesterol and saturated fatty acids but high in polyunsaturated fatty acids

Factors that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases include:

  • Smoking
  • Age (men over 45 and women over 55)
  • Elevated arterial blood pressure (140/90 mmHg or higher)
  • A family history of increased cholesterol or cardiovascular diseases
  • Coronary heart disease, previous heart attacks, or strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Excess body weight
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Low physical activity

Understanding VLDL cholesterol and its associated risk factors is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine medical check-ups can significantly contribute to managing cholesterol levels and promoting overall well-being.

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