What is Good vs. Bad Cholesterol? — Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding

A New Study Shows that Bariatric Surgery Improves Good Cholesterol Production

Recent studies demonstrated that gastric sleeve surgery improves good cholesterol levels. In fact, it was the first study to indicate that bariatric surgery directly effects cholesterol.  Here, Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding examines cholesterol and its forms in the body.  What is good vs. bad cholesterol?  How does bad cholesterol cause health issues?  Understanding these issues may be helpful in making decisions regarding bariatric surgery and improving your overall health.

What is Cholesterol?

Although cholesterol sometimes gets a bad name, the molecule has many important functions in the body.  For example, your body uses cholesterol to make steroid hormones and vitamin D. Cholesterol is also a vital part of your cell membranes, where it plays both structural and protective roles.

Our bodies naturally make cholesterol in the liver.  The rest of our cholesterol comes from our diets.  Cholesterol is transported through the blood with the help of lipoproteins.  When doctors examine your cholesterol levels, they are examining what proportions of these lipoproteins are present.

LDL (low-density lipoproteins) are the major carriers of blood cholesterol and take the molecule to your cells. If your cells do not need any more cholesterol, the LDL instead contributes to the formation of plaques.  Plaques cause blockages and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Hence, LDL cholesterol is also called “bad cholesterol.”

HDL (high-density lipoproteins) helps clear blood cholesterol by taking it to the liver or other organs.  It can also pull cholesterol from forming plaques and reduce other side effects of LDL accumulation.  Thus, HDL is often called “good cholesterol.”

The balance of good vs bad cholesterol in the blood influences cardiovascular health.

Rebalancing Good vs. Bad Cholesterol

When doctors check your cholesterol, they consider the ratio of good vs. bad cholesterol in your blood.  Too much bad cholesterol means you are at risk for cardiovascular disease.  By increasing your good cholesterol levels, you can reduce these risks and begin reversing the damage.

Changes to lifestyle and diet can improve your ratios of good vs. bad cholesterol levels.  Often good cholesterol is low in people who also have high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and obesity.  Doctors may prescribe medications to assist with all these issues.  Experts such as Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding also offer surgical solutions due to the multitude of benefits in addition to weight reduction.  This new study strongly indicates benefits for gastric sleeve surgery for improving good cholesterol levels.

Bariatric Surgery Consultations with Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding

If you are struggling with obesity and high cholesterol, bariatric surgery may be appropriate for you. For a full evaluation, please contact Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding and colleagues at the NYU Langone Weight Management Program.

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