Risks, Numbers, and Lowering Methods

Even though low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, a new survey suggests that most people who survive these events have no idea that LDL is “bad cholesterol.”

LDL cholesterol plays a key role in the buildup of fatty deposits inside arteries that can cause these blood vessels to narrow over time, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. And three out of four heart attack and stroke survivors have high cholesterol, according to the survey from the American Heart Association (AHA).

Despite this, fewer than half of heart attack and stroke survivors prioritize lowering their cholesterol, or even know their own LDL levels, the survey found.

Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, a past president of the AHA and the chair of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, has answers to some of the most common questions about LDL cholesterol.