Survey: More than half of respondents with hypercholesterolemia take supplements instead of statins

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More than half of respondents to a recent survey said they used dietary and/or herbal supplements rather than prescription medications to treat hypercholesterolemia.

Further, 57 percent of respondents said dietary and/or herbal supplements were more effective than statins, while 21 percent said supplements and statins were equally effective.

The Association of Black Cardiologists, a nonprofit organization, sent a survey to black U.S. residents with hypercholesterolemia who were using dietary and/or herbal supplements. AstraZeneca supported the study.

Of the respondents, 57 percent said they did not use prescription medications such as statins, which are the standard of care for treating high cholesterol. The percentages were similar for men and women, although they varied depending on age.

For instance, respondents who were between 30 and 45 years old were significantly more likely to take supplements instead of statins, while respondents who were between 46 and 70 years old were significantly more likely to take supplements in addition to statins.

Respondents said the most common reasons for taking dietary and/or herbal supplements were control over their health, the cost of medications and perceived health benefits.

Karol E. Watson, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine/cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, was scheduled to present the findings at the National Medical Association’s annual meeting in Los Angeles.

"These results confirm that there is a significant need for education and opportunity for improvement in lipid management in African Americans,” Watson said in a news release.