Lower Your LDL

Lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke for you or someone you love. Talk to your doctor about getting tested.

Learn About Your LDL Cholesterol

LDL “bad” cholesterol is an important risk factor for your health

Lowering your LDL cholesterol today can help you live a longer life and enjoy a healthy tomorrow with your loved ones. It is important to talk with your health care professional and have your cholesterol checked. You can reduce your risk (PDF) | Spanish (PDF) of a heart attack or stroke by knowing and treating your LDL cholesterol level.

My LDL Cholesterol Guide

Let's Talk About LDL Cholesterol

Check out our free all-in-one learning tool to understand what LDL "bad" cholesterol is and learn tips to reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke. Educate yourself to live a longer, healthier life!

You can explore on your own time and download free resources along the way.

Let's Talk About LDL Cholesterol eModule

LDL FAQ

Find answers to your questions about LDL "bad" cholesterol

Knowing your LDL cholesterol is essential to your well-being. By learning what affects your LDL (bad) cholesterol, you can help manage it. Learn about the types of cholesterol, what affects your cholesterol, how often you should get it checked, and more below.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. The rest of the cholesterol in your body comes from foods derived from animals such as meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products.

What are the types of cholesterol?

Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol to and from cells. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. Your total cholesterol is a measurement of these three key components of cholesterol.

What should I know about my LDL level?

LDL (low density lipoprotein), or “bad” cholesterol, can cause fatty buildup called plaque in your arteries. Having high LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke

How can I check what my LDL number is?

High cholesterol typically has no symptoms. It's important to have your cholesterol tested, so you can know your levels and risk for heart attack and stroke. Ask your health care professional to order a test called a lipid panel that will show four important numbers:

  • LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • Triglycerides (most common type of fat)
  • Total cholesterol (LDL+HDL cholesterols+20% of triglycerides)  
What can affect my LDL level?
  • Family history of high cholesterol, a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia.
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Not being physically active
  • Being overweight
  • Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke     
What can I do if my LDL is high?

Positive lifestyle habits like eating healthy and working out can help lower your LDL. However, lifestyle changes aren’t always enough. Talk to your health care professional about medications to lower your LDL.

Take control of your health by controlling your LDL. You can help motivate your loved ones to know their numbers too!  

Does LDL affect my heart attack/stroke risk?

Too much LDL cholesterol can lead to a buildup of fatty deposits, or plaques, inside your arteries. These plaques can narrow arteries and reduce blood flow. If a piece of the plaque breaks free, it might travel into the bloodstream and block a blood vessel to the heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke

How low can I go with my LDL?

Various research studies of LDL levels have shown “lower is better.”  

Talk to your health care professional. If you’re healthy, aim for an optimal LDL level below 100 mg/dL. If you have a history of heart attack or stroke and are already on a cholesterol-lowering medication, your doctor may aim for your LDL level to be 70 mg/dL or lower.

How often should I check my LDL?

Healthy adults 20-39 years old should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years.  

Adults over age 40, or those who have heart disease (including prior heart attack) or other risk factors, may need their cholesterol checked more often.

LDL "Bad" Cholesterol Treatment

Treatment options may include lifestyle changes and medication

Knowledge is power. You can speak with your health care professional about your LDL cholesterol. They will assess your risk, review any lifestyle changes, and explore treatments if needed. Treatment could include cholesterol-lowering medications. It’s important to talk with your health care professional so you can understand your risks to prevent a heart attack or stroke. By learning how to lower your cholesterol including lifestyle changes, medications and understanding your risks, you can take steps to improve your health for you or someone you love.

Patient Stories

LDL Cholesterol and Your Health

According to a survey (English PDF | Spanish PDF) from the American Heart Association with The Harris Poll:

75%
of heart attack and stroke survivors reported having high cholesterol.
47%
of survivors are unaware of their LDL number.
98%
are willing to get their cholesterol measured if recommended by their health care professional.

You are not alone: Find the support you’ve been looking for after your heart attack or stroke.

Discover the AHA's Support Network, an uplifting community where heart attack and stroke survivors and caregivers, who understand the journey to recovery, come together to support and encourage one another.
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