What Are the Explanations of LDL/HDL Ratios?


Quick Answer

LDL/HDL ratios, also known as cholesterol ratios, are indicators of the risks individuals have of developing heart disease or stroke. Testing blood samples for these indicators helps determine the level of risk by comparing the person's levels to the optimal ratios, according to Mayo Clinic.

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Full Answer

Cholesterol, a fatty substance naturally found in the body, aids in hormone and vitamin D production as well as digestion. Ingesting food containing cholesterol elevates these levels. The two types of cholesterol used in calculating cholesterol ratios are high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, and low-density lipoproteins, or LDL. Higher levels of LDL impair the arteries, the blood vessels responsible for taking blood away from the heart. Elevated HDL levels are beneficial because they help the liver remove cholesterol from the body, states the National Institutes of Health.

Calculating cholesterol ratios requires knowing the total cholesterol and the LDL and HDL values. Adding the LDL, the HDL and 20 percent of the triglycerides yields the total cholesterol number. Dividing the total cholesterol by the HDL gives a value for the cholesterol ratio. Ratios at 5-to-1 or lower are ideal for a lower risk of developing heart disease, explains the American Heart Association.

Ideally, cholesterol numbers less than 180 mg/dL lower the risks associated with heart disease and stroke. Dietary changes aid in bringing up the beneficial HDL levels and avoiding elevated LDL numbers. Increasing HDL levels improves the cholesterol ratio and lowers the risk for developing heart disease or stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

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