While it is important to have your cholesterol checked on a regular basis, remember cholesterol is just one piece of the cardiovascular risk reduction puzzle. You need to maintain a healthy diet and weight and quit smoking, if you are a smoker, to decrease your risk of heart disease.
“When you are able to control those risk factors, you can start looking at your cholesterol level,” says Dolores J. McDowell, RN, FNP-BC, family nurse practitioner and Saint Francis Medical Partner.
The most important cholesterol number to control is your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad cholesterol.” If you have no cardiovascular risk factors or diabetes, you should stay in the range of 130-160 mg/dL. However, if you suffer from heart disease, you should keep your LDL below 70 mg/dL.
“Plaque buildup in your arteries can develop when your LDL levels become too high,” says McDowell.