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Dr Russ Blog - How Low Can You Go (Cholesterol)?
How Low Can You Go (Cholesterol)?
Created on 5/7/2010

O sends in a very good question - can your total cholesterol level be too low?

Unfortunately, there's not an easy answer to the question.

Conclusions from the majority of research trials strongly suggest that keeping LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels low while maintaining high HDL ("good") cholesterol levels can help keep us healthy.

As regards LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), how low should we aim? Most experts believe we should try to keep our LDL-C below 100 mg /dL, while people with a history of heart disease should aim lower (less than 70 mg/dL). Should diet and lifestyle changes not be sufficient to attain this goal, medication is often used to lower cholesterol levels.

Here's the problem - a small number of studies have raised concerns about very low cholesterol levels being associated with depression, even certain forms of cancer and increased all-cause mortality.

Studies define low total cholesterol as anything below 189 mg/dL.

A very low cholesterol level in a person NOT taking cholesterol-lowering medication may be a sign of inadequate nutrition, frailty or illness.

What about a person who is taking cholesterol-lowering medication? Can cholesterol be lowered too far?

The answer is - maybe. We're simply not sure and await further research findings to help guide care. There isn't a single "right" answer just yet.

We know that keeping cholesterol levels low is better than having them high, but the question of degree of lowering has not yet been fully answered. Even so, this is a topic best discussed with the person who knows your medical history and risk factors very well - your doctor. 

I wish I had a better answer for you, O, but I hope this helps in some way.
Be well.
Dr. Russ

** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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