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Cholesterol, Apo-B, and Their Effects on your Heart: Explained

When it comes to health, cholesterol is a hot topic. You might have heard that high levels of “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), can increase your risk of heart disease. But have you heard of Apo-B? This is another marker of heart disease risk that you might not be as familiar with.

So, what exactly are cholesterol and Apo-B, and how do they affect your health?


Cholesterol: The Basics

Cholesterol is a type of fat that your body needs to build cells, make hormones, and digest food. But too much cholesterol in your bloodstream can contribute to the formation of plaque, a buildup of cholesterol and other substances, in your arteries. This can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

There are two types of cholesterol: LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it can contribute to plaque buildup, while HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove excess cholesterol from your bloodstream.


Apo-B: The Less-Known Marker of Heart Disease Risk

Apo-B, short for apolipoprotein B, is a protein that helps transport cholesterol and other fats through your bloodstream. Like LDL cholesterol, high levels of Apo-B can increase your risk of heart disease.

But why should you care about Apo-B if you already know about LDL cholesterol? The answer lies in the fact that LDL cholesterol is just one type of particle that contains Apo-B.

Each particle of LDL cholesterol contains one Apo-B molecule. But there are also other types of particles, such as very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL), that contain Apo-B. In fact, each of these particles contains multiple Apo-B molecules.

This means that measuring Apo-B levels can give you a more accurate picture of your heart disease risk than just looking at your LDL cholesterol levels alone.


How to Lower Your Cholesterol and Apo-B Levels

If your cholesterol and Apo-B levels are too high, there are several steps you can take to lower them and reduce your risk of heart disease:

  1. Eat a healthy diet: Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, and increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources.
  2. Exercise regularly: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.
  3. Quit smoking: Smoking can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease.
  4. Take medication if necessary: Statins are a type of medication that can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

The Bottom Line

Cholesterol and Apo-B are two markers of heart disease risk that you should pay attention to. While LDL cholesterol is often the focus, measuring Apo-B levels can give you a more accurate picture of your risk. By following a healthy diet and lifestyle and taking medication if necessary, you can lower your cholesterol and Apo-B levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.



  • Miller, M., & Stone, N. J. (2013). Ballantyne CM et al. 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 63(25 Part B), 2960-2984.
  • Ridker, P. M., Rifai, N., Cook, N. R., Bradwin, G., & Buring, J. E. (2005). Non–HDL cholesterol, apolipoproteins A-I and B100, standard lipid measures, lipid ratios, and CRP as risk factors for cardiovascular disease in women. Jama, 294(3), 326-333.
  • Walldius, G., Jungner, I., Aastveit, A. H., Holme, I., & Furberg, C. (2004). Apolipoprotein B and A-I in relation to coronary heart disease risk among patients with and without diabetes. Jama, 291(19), 2313-2319.
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  • Catapano, A. L., Graham, I., De Backer, G., Wiklund, O., Chapman, M. J., Drexel, H., … & Vlachopoulos, C. (2016). 2016 ESC/EAS Guidelines for the Management of Dyslipidaemias. European heart journal, 37(39), 2999-3058.

Written by Coach Nachiketh Shetty

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