Lisa Nelson #7: Are you concerned by unusually high HDL levels, such as greater than 100 mg/dl?
Dr. Shelby-Lane: The main function of HDL is to help soak up excess cholesterol from the walls of blood vessels and carry it to the liver, where it breaks down and is removed from the body in the bile.
Measuring for particle size and particle number is the best way to tell if HDL cholesterol levels are safe/healthy. This involves testing and it is usually measured under the guidelines of an "expanded lipid profile." The usual and optimal range for HDL is (40 for men and 50 for women).
Expanded lipid profiles are necessary to look at particle size.
There are several laboratories (see below) with different lab techniques, who specialize in performing these tests and measurements.
- Liposcience (NMR in North Carolina)
- Spectracell Labs Lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP) (Houston, Texas.....my preferred lab)
- Berkeley Heart Lab with apoA phenotype (more expensive) in California
- Quest Labs with the VAP test (nationwide)
The laboratory test for HDL actually measures how much cholesterol is in the HDL, not the actual amount of HDL in the blood.
Normal Results and General Guidelines
In general, your risk for heart disease, including a heart attack, increases if your HDL cholesterol level is less than 40 mg/dL.
Men are at particular risk if their HDL is below 37 mg/dL.
Women are at particular risk if their HDL is below 47 mg/dL.
An HDL 60 mg/dL or above helps protect against heart disease.
Women tend to have higher HDL cholesterol than men.
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Low HDL levels may indicate an increased risk of atherosclerotic heart disease.
Abnormally high tests may be associated with:
Familial combined hyperlipidemia
Noninsulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM)
According to (Natural News) The new scientific toolbox is being used to poke around in HDL's "house", only to find good news and bad news. HDL has been labeled "good" cholesterol because it helps remove damaged LDL cholesterol from your arteries and has generally been associated with having less cardiovascular disease. It is now coming to light that the quality of the HDL you have is as important, if not more important, than the amount of HDL you have. This means there is both "good HDL" and "bad HDL" and if you have too much of the bad HDL then it no longer protects you and actually helps cause heart disease. How do you know if you have good or bad HDL? You'd get an "expanded lipid profile" to learn the particle size and number of your HDL cholesterol molecules.
HDL is small in comparison to LDL, and it is higher in protein. It functions as a tow truck, latching on to spent or damaged LDL and returning it to your liver for recycling and/or clearance. The two main proteins that make up HDL are called apoA-I (75%) and apoA-II (25%). ApoA-I is the good guy, and its integrity of structure is vital for HDL's ability to clear damaged LDL from your circulation and the walls of your arteries.