Shining a Light on LDL Cholesterol Management in America

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, and that makes it the perfect time to shine a light on cholesterol management in America. Family Heart Foundation research shows that 70% of Americans at high-risk for cardiovascular disease never get their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol to recommended levels.

Heart disease is still the number one killer of American adults, and LDL cholesterol is a major risk factor that can lead to heart attack or stroke. While many can lower their LDL with lifestyle changes, some will need medication to get to their Safe Zone.

To raise awareness of getting to the LDL Safe Zone, Family Heart Foundation Board Member and Preventive Cardiologist Dr. Seth Baum participated in a nationwide satellite media tour. During this time, Dr. Baum discussed LDL cholesterol, treatment options, and navigation tips with local news stations across the US.

You can watch one of these interviews here:

Recommendations from the American College of Cardiology are:

  • For people without heart disease, the LDL safe zone is less than 100 mg/dL.
  • For those who have already experienced a heart attack or stroke, the safe zone is less than 70 mg/dL.
  • For people at very high risk, like those with heart disease and FH, the safe zone is less than 55 mg/dL.

Statins are typically the first medication prescribed to help lower LDL cholesterol levels. However, not all patients reach their LDL Safe Zone on a statin alone. Often, PCSK9 inhibitors are recommended in those cases.

Unfortunately, many people are denied access to these potentially life-saving drugs. Data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that commercial insurance companies were denying over 90% of initial PCSK9 prescriptions. Of those initial rejections, less than half (only 42%) were eventually overturned.

Most disturbingly, 74% of patients who were rejected for a PCSK9 inhibitor ended up on no therapy at all. This can have dire consequences. Research from the Family Heart Foundation shows that compared to individuals who got their PCSK9 inhibitor, those who were rejected or abandoned experienced more heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events within 12 months.

To learn more about where your LDL Safe Zone is, and how to get there, visit

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