Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Can Cholesterol Be Too Low?

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:28 AM

Question: My doctor recently advised dietary changes because he said my cholesterol was too low. He recommended niacin. I must be the only person in the United States taking medication to treat low cholesterol. I'd sure like a second opinion.

Cholesterol treatment is usually intended only for those with elevated cholesterol. We do not usually treat low cholesterol levels. However, there is more to the cholesterol puzzle than your total cholesterol level.

We all know we should have low total and low LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Some of us have inherited a low level of HDL cholesterol. This HDL cholesterol scavenges bad LDL cholesterol, preventing it from depositing inside our vessel walls, giving us more protection against heart disease and stroke. The higher the HDL cholesterol, the more protection you have against heart attack and stroke.

Niacin does elevate the protective HDL cholesterol level, and is useful in treating those of us with low HDL cholesterol levels.

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