Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting more than 92 million people, with 45 million more being at an increased risk for developing CVD within 10 years. Elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is one of the key risk factors for CVD and several studies have shown that lowering LDL-C is one of the most important aspects of primary and secondary CVD prevention.
However, how much we should lower LDL-C to convey a cardiovascular benefit is not clear. The concept of “treat to target” is constantly evolving to “lower is better”, which has spun a growing debate in the clinical community, partly because we don’t agree about the specific target LDL-C levels that are also safe. The approval of new non-statin therapies that aggressively lower LDL-C, such as proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors, has invigorated the debate about specific LDL-C targets, with many experts advocating for achieving very low levels of LDL-C (below 50 mg/dL and in some cases, ≤20 mg/dL) early in the treatment regimen in order to maximize cardiovascular benefits.