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LDL targets can Differ

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:

  • Smoking
  • 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.