Rate of adults with high total cholesterol declines in U.S.

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The proportion of U.S. adults with high total cholesterol and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol has decreased in recent years, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Dec. 1.

From 2011 to 2014, 12.1 percent of adults had high total cholesterol and 18.5 percent had low HDL cholesterol, a decrease from 13.4 percent and 21.3 percent, respectively, from 2009 to 2010.

Meanwhile, 11 percent of adults had high total cholesterol and 19.9 percent of adults had low HDL cholesterol from 2013 to 2014, down from 14.3 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively, from 2007 to 2008. There was a significant decreased in the percentage of adults with high total cholesterol from 2011-2012 to 2013-14, but there was no significant change in the percentage of adults with low HDL cholesterol during that time period.

The authors of the National Center for Health Statistics data brief were Margaret D. Carroll, MSPH; Cheryl D. Fryar, MSPH; and Brian K. Kit, MD, MPH.

They defined high total cholesterol as serum total cholesterol greater than or equal to 240 mg/dL and low HDL cholesterol has serum HDL cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL.

“Total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol are two lipid measures that clinicians may use to assess patient health,” the researchers wrote. “In fact, clinicians may use both of these lipid measures, in addition to systolic blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes, to calculate the risk of developing diseases associated with atherosclerosis, such as heart disease and stroke. Therefore, both of these lipid measures are important to clinical practices designed to reduce cardiovascular disease in the United States.”

From 2011 to 2014, 7.5 percent of adults between 20 and 39 years old, 16 percent of adults between 40 and 59 years old and 12.9 percent of adults who were 60 or older had high total cholesterol.

In addition, 10.6 percent of men and 13 percent of women had high total cholesterol from 2011 to 2014. Further, 8.6 percent of non-Hispanic black adults, 12.5 percent of non-Hispanic white adults and 13.1 percent of Hispanic adults had high total cholesterol.

From 2011 to 2014, 27.9 percent of men and 10 percent of women had low HDL cholesterol. Overall, 19.5 percent of adults between 20 and 39 years old, 19.8 percent of adults between 40 and 59 years old and 15.3 percent of adults who were 60 or older had high total cholesterol.

The researchers noted that one goal of the Healthy People 2020 initiative was having 13.5 percent or fewer of U.S. adults with high total cholesterol by 2020. As of now, all subgroups except for non-Hispanic white women have exceeded that goal.