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How can LDL cholesterol increase a woman's risk for heart disease?

A high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—the so-called bad cholesterol—is a substantial contributor to heart disease. LDL cholesterol can increase the build-up of plaque, a fatty substance that adheres to artery walls, restricting blood flow. Eventually, this can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

However, not all types of cholesterol are bad. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is a beneficial form of cholesterol. It removes LDL cholesterol from your arteries. So while it is unhealthy to have high levels of LDL cholesterol, it is also unhealthy to have low levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol.

The ideal blood cholesterol level for you depends on your age, gender and history of heart disease, but for most people with coronary artery disease the target LDL cholesterol level is 70 mg/dL or below, and the target HDL cholesterol level is above 50 mg/dL for women.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.