Heart Health

Ask the doctor: How low should my LDL go?

Q. I come from a long line of family members with heart disease. Right now, my HDL is 62 mg/dL [milligrams per deciliter], and my LDL is 115 mg/dL. My doctor isn't worried about my LDL, but shouldn't I shoot for an LDL level under 100 mg/dL?

A. First, your HDL is terrific, and is probably the envy of many of your friends (if you sit around comparing lipid profiles). Based on these numbers, you don't have a high-risk lipid profile. Assuming that you don't currently have a personal history suggestive of coronary artery disease — like having angina (chest pain with exercise or stress) or having had a heart attack — an LDL-lowering medication such as a statin is not something I'd suggest if you were my patient. I don't think the potential for side effects and the cost of the medication are worth whatever small gain you might achieve from driving your LDL lower.

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