The Real Deal With Cholesterol


As it turns out, “bad” cholesterol—LDL—is usually only as bad as the company it keeps. This past November, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association announced that doctors should consider a patient’s overall heart disease risk when deciding whether to prescribe statins. Your LDL cholesterol will still be part of the equation, but unless it’s a stratospheric 190mg/dl or higher, it will no longer be the sole deciding factor. That’s because research shows that LDL rarely acts alone to take its toll on your ticker—it gangs up with high blood pressure, ageing, high blood sugar and smoking. As a result, this also means that if you do start on statins, your doctor will no longer focus on hitting a target LDL cholesterol level, such as 100mg/dl, says John Keaney, MD, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “It will be more like, ‘How are you doing on this dose of the medicine? Are you tolerating it? Is there a problem?’” Of course, at the same time your doc will also work with you to address any high blood pressure or elevated blood sugar.