VLDL-C stands for very low-density lipoprotein. VLDL-C carries triglycerides in the blood and, to a lesser extent, cholesterol. High levels of VLDL-C are associated with a type of blood vessel disease called atherosclerosis. Like LDL-C (low density lipoprotein cholesterol), VLDL-C levels should be kept relatively low to help prevent blood vessel disease and to help prevent heart attack and stroke. Pieces of VLDL-C that contain triglycerides can move into the wall of blood vessels and can do damage and cause disease. VLDL-C also promotes inflammation of the blood vessel wall. Since VLDL-C is mostly made up of triglycerides, the easiest way to lower VLDL-C is to lower triglycerides. People can lower their VLDL-C level by getting aerobic exercise and reducing the amount of sugary foods they eat, and taking certain types of cholesterol-lowering medications.
Normal Ranges for VLDL-C:
- Men: Less than 30 mg/dL
- Women: Less than 30 mg/dL
- Children to up 18 years of age: Less than 30 mg/dL
- Critical Range: N/A
Laboratories do not report a level of VLDL-C that is too low. Nevertheless, chronic infections and certain autoimmune diseases can cause very low triglyceride levels and, in turn VLDL-C levels. In rare cases, low VLDL-C is caused by a genetic condition. It is also possible that they are experiencing a severe disease such as cancer or severe anemia. Low VLDL-C levels do not cause symptoms on their own, but the disease that is causing the low VLDL-C will cause its own, specific symptoms.
Some specific causes of a low VLDL-C are:
- Hereditary abetalipoproteinemia
- Hepatitis (chronic, active hepatitis B, hepatitis C)
- Malnutrition and undernutrition
A high VLDL-C level often means that someone has too many triglycerides in the blood. Most patients will not experience any symptoms. They only way they will know if they have high VLDL-C is through a blood test. If symptoms do occur, which can happen at very high cholesterol levels, high VLDL-C may cause collections of cholesterol under the skin of the hands and around the eyes called xanthomas. At very high levels of triglycerides, people can have pancreatitis, a serious inflammation of the pancreas.
Some specific causes of a high VLDL-C are:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Alcohol overuse
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Estrogen replacement therapy
- Diabetes mellitus
- Certain drugs such as tamoxifen and beta blockers
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