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Definition of HDL cholesterol

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

HDL cholesterol: High density lipoprotein cholesterol. Lipoproteins, which are combinations of fats (lipids) and proteins, are the form in which lipids are transported in the blood. HDLs transport cholesterol from the tissues of the body to the liver, so the cholesterol can be eliminated in the bile. HDL cholesterol is therefore considered the 'good' cholesterol: The higher the HDL cholesterol level, the lower the risk of coronary artery disease.The average man has an HDL cholesterol level of 40 to 50 mg/dL. In the average woman, HDL levels range from 50 to 60 mg/dL. An HDL cholesterol of 60 mg/dL or higher gives some protection against heart disease. Regular aerobic exercise, loss of excess weight (fat), and cessation of cigarette smoking increase HDL cholesterol levels. When lifestyle modifications are insufficient, medications can be used.

Reviewed on 12/12/2018

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