Because LDL cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, it’s the main focus of cholesterol-lowering treatment. Your target LDL number can vary, depending on your underlying risk of heart disease.
Most people should aim for an LDL level below 3.4 mmol/L. If you have other risk factors for heart disease, your target LDL may be below 2.6 mmol/L. If you’re at very high risk of heart disease, you may need to aim for an LDL level below 1.8 mmol/L. In general, the lower your LDL cholesterol level is, the better.
You’re considered to be at a high risk of heart disease if you:
- Have had a previous heart attack or stroke
- Have artery blockages in your neck (carotid artery disease)
- Have artery blockages in your arms or legs (peripheral artery disease)
- Have known diabetes that requires treatment
In addition, two or more of the following risk factors might also place you in the high-risk group:
- High blood pressure
- Low HDL cholesterol
- Family history of early heart disease
- Age older than 45 if you’re a man, or older than 55 if you’re a woman
- Elevated lipoprotein (a), another type of fat (lipid) in your blood.