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What Causes Low HDL Cholesterol Level?

The Importance of HDL Cholesterol

The HDL cholesterol plays an important role in lowering the levels of the triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, which is also called as bad cholesterol and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Thus, having a high HDL level has a positive impact when it comes to decreasing the risks of any cardiac ailments. With that being said, while low LDL and triglycerides benefit the body, low HDL levels work exactly the opposite, it being the good cholesterol.

Low levels of HDL cholesterol may lead to clogging of arteries causing conditions like myocardial infarction or stroke. This risk rises exponentially if the low HDL levels are in conjunction with high levels of LDL and triglycerides.

However, it should be mentioned here that the HDL cholesterol is not the only parameter, which determines the risk factor of cardiovascular diseases in an individual and other lifestyle and genetic factors also play a role. There can be various reasons for the HDL cholesterol to become low. This article highlights some of the potential causes of Low HDL Cholesterol Levels.

What Causes Low HDL Cholesterol Level?

What Causes Low HDL Cholesterol Level?

Before going to the causes of Low HDL Cholesterol levels, it is important to know the optimal levels first. The normal levels of HDL cholesterol are different for males and females. For males, normal levels of HDL cholesterol are above 45 mg/dL and for females HDL cholesterol levels should be above 50 mg/dL.

However, any levels below these numbers are not the only criterion when physicians check the overall heart health of an individual. They also look for other risk factors like lifestyle habits and weight of the individual and appropriate counseling is done to boost HDL levels the normal way than just prescribing medicines to increase the levels up. Now coming to the causes of low HDL Cholesterol levels, lifestyle and certain medical conditions play a crucial role to include:

Poorly Controlled Diabetes: Increased levels of blood sugars play a pivotal role in causing low HDL Cholesterol levels.(1) In fact, increased levels of blood sugars also increase the LDL and triglyceride levels, thus increasing the risk of an individual having a cardiovascular illness. Once the sugar levels are brought under control, the HDL cholesterol may go back to normal. Both medications and lifestyle modifications need to be done for this purpose.

Nicotine Abuse: Studies reveal that smokers tend to have more chances of decreased HDL cholesterol levels.(2) Abstaining from smoking is the best way to get the HDL cholesterol back up.

Sedentary Lifestyle: People who lead a sedentary lifestyle with not much exercise also tend to have low HDL cholesterol levels.(3) Various studies reveal doing at least 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis is quite beneficial in boosting the levels of HDL cholesterol.(4) Brisk walking is the easiest and best exercise to do. Cycling and swimming also help in boosting HDL cholesterol levels.

Overweight: Being obese or overweight can lead to a number of medical conditions including the individual having suboptimal HDL cholesterol levels.(5) Obesity is one of the leading causes of HDL cholesterol levels and increased LDL cholesterol levels. Thus, it is recommended to maintain an ideal body weight and shed extra pounds in a healthy way to normalize the HDL and LDL levels and decrease any risk of cardiovascular conditions.

Dietary Habits: This is yet another cause for low HDL Cholesterol levels. Eating excess of saturated fats and processed foods can all contribute to an increased LDL and decreased HDL cholesterol levels. Instead substituting them with foods rich in vitamins and eating foods like fish and green leafy vegetables is a better option to increase HDL cholesterol levels.(6)

Genetic Makeup: The genetic makeup of an individual also plays a role in an individual having low levels of HDL cholesterol. There are certain inherited medical conditions like Tangier’s Disease, which affect the levels of HDL cholesterol and causes it to go low.(7) These conditions usually do not have any cure; and medications to maintain HDL levels within the normal range are the frontline treatment.

So, to summarize…..

HDL cholesterol is quite an important factor in determining whether an individual is at risk for having cardiovascular diseases. However, physicians also look for additional risk factors for cardiovascular diseases instead of just focusing on the HDL cholesterol levels. Some of the other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases include obesity, sedentary life, nicotine abuse, a family history of cardiovascular ailments or medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

People with low HDL Cholesterol levels need not be worried. They can just concentrate on increasing activity, shed extra weight through healthy means, and above all eat healthy. People can also consult with a nutritionist or a dietician who can formulate a diet chart for keeping the weight under control. It can also help people with diabetes and hypertension by controlling sugar levels and blood pressure.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 15, 2022

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