What is HDL?

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Jonathan Sackner Bernstein, MD
The good cholesterol, called HDL, plays the role of actually trying to clear cholesterol deposits from the walls of your artery, and it's those deposits on the wall of the artery that can rupture, causing a heart attack, a stroke, without warning, so you want as much good cholesterol as you can. There have been a number of ways that people have tried to raise that, but there really have not been the real easily tolerated, highly safe therapies like statins that have come up. So, exercise, very important, red wine can help a little bit, but I would never want to be quoted as saying that everybody should start drinking heavily. That's something you should discuss with your doctor, whether it's appropriate or not for you. There are medicines such as B vitamin derivatives, niacin, at high doses, not the kind of thing you'd get in a regular vitamin, there are much higher doses that really have to be used with physician supervision, but that can help some. There are other medicines that are under development that have a lot of promise that we should be hearing about over the next couple of years. But if your HDL, or good cholesterol is high, then you should be happy.