LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is "bad" cholesterol, which carries mostly fat and only a small amount of protein from the liver to other parts of the body. A high LDL cholesterol level is considered a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD) because, under certain conditions, it can cause hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
Cholesterol is measured either in millimoles per litre of blood (mmol/L) or in milligrams per decilitre of blood (mg/dL).
An LDL cholesterol level of less than less than 2.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dL) is considered optimal.
2.6 to 3.4 (100 to 129) is considered near optimal.
3.5 to 4.1 (130 to 159) is considered borderline high.
4.2 to 4.9 (160 to 189) is considered high.
5.0 and above (190) is considered very high.
People who have at least a moderate risk for developing heart disease (especially those who have diabetes) may benefit from lowering their LDL cholesterol levels. The specific target LDL level depends on a person's number and type of risk factors.
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Robert A. Kloner MD, PhD - Cardiology & Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine