A healthy result should fall into the range 7 - 100 mg/dL, or 0.18 - 2.59 mmol/L.

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), also called “bad” cholesterol, is one of four markers measured by a lipid profile. The quality of LDL that gives it a negative denotation is its contribution to plaque—a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks one of these narrowed arteries, heart attack or stroke can occur. For this reason, the lower your LDL cholesterol number, the lower your risk. It is recommended that a lipid profile be done every four to six years in all adults with no risk factors for heart disease. Frequently, a healthcare provider will order a lipid profile more frequently if you have one or more risk factors for heart disease, such as:

- Cigarette smoking

- Being overweight or obese

- Unhealthy diet

- Being physically inactive

- Age (males older than 45 or females older than 55)

- High blood pressure

- Family history of cardiovascular disease

- Diabetes / prediabetes

In addition, acute illness, heart attack, and stressor like surgery or an accident are known to skew LDL-C blood tests. It is worth noting that, in women, LDL-C usually rises during pregnancy.

Normal Ranges:

LDL level in mg/dL

Risk of heart disease (independent of other risk factors)

50-70 Optimal [R]

71-100

Normal

100-129

Near normal, slightly elevated

130-159

Borderline high

160+

High to very high

LDL result calculator

insert the value from you LDL test result.

What does it mean if your LDL result is too low?

Low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol—“bad” cholesterol—mean a lower risk of developing heart disease. As mentioned, this is because when there is excess LDL-C in the blood, it contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can result in heart attack or stroke if a clot tries to pass through.  

What does it mean if your LDL result is too high?

The easiest lifestyle adjustment you can make to lower LDL-C is to eat better and exercise more.

Specifically:

- Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol

- Eat fiber rich food

- Exercise at least 2.5 hours / week

- Lower stress

- Limit alcohol intake

- Quit smoking

If your LDL-C is high enough, a statin prescription may also be desirable. Statins lower your cholesterol by inhibiting the liver enzyme responsible for the production of cholesterol. 

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