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Lipoproteins and CVD

Lipoproteins and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Cardiovascular disease (CVD):

Although the treatments for heart disease and strokes have significantly improved in recent years, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the leading cause of death in the United States. Types of CVD include coronary heart disease (i.e. heart attack) and strokes. Coronary heart disease is the major cause of CVD-related death and is brought upon by narrowing of the coronary arteries from the accumulation of fatty plaques, leading to chest pain or a heart attack. CVD is influenced by both genetic factors and lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.

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Lipoproteins and CVD risk:

Every cell in your body needs fat and cholesterol to function, but sometimes your body is unable to maintain your blood fat and cholesterol within normal levels. You’ve probably heard of LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) and HDL cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol). When LDL cholesterol is high and/or your HDL cholesterol is low, the risk for CVD increases. However, it’s much more complicated. The particles that carry fat and cholesterol in your body, called lipoproteins, come in various sizes and densities that may affect heart disease risk differently. We have shown that larger LDL is not as strongly associated with risk for heart disease than smaller, more dense LDL. Some people have higher levels of small, dense LDL particles than others. There is also evidence that large, less dense HDL is associated with greater protection from heart disease than smaller, denser HDL particles.

Diet and Lipoproteins:

It is known that what you eat can influence lipoproteins and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. However, we still don’t really understand which components of the diet have the greatest influence and how these components work to increase or decrease your risk for disease.

What is a lipoprotein?

Lipoproteins are complex particles that are found in everybody’s blood. They carry cholesterol and fat through the blood to various places in the body, and this helps the body to work.

Sometimes, cholesterol and fat from lipoproteins get stuck in the side of the blood vessel where they are not supposed to be.  This can lead to heart disease if it happens too much.  Having too much cholesterol and fat in the blood can increase the risk of getting heart disease.  The amount of cholesterol and fat in your blood is controlled in part by your diet.