High Total Cholesterol Remains Unchanged in Adults

High levels of total cholesterol and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”) are risk factors for coronary heart disease.  To identify persons who may be at risk for developing coronary heart disease, adults are advised to have their cholesterol checked at least once every 5 years (i.e., to be screened for cholesterol). A previous study reported declining trends in the percentage of adults with high total cholesterol during 1999–2010.

This report presents estimates of the percentages of adults aged 20 and over with high total cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and screened for cholesterol, based on data from 2011–2012, and compares them with corresponding estimates from 2009–2010. Analysis is based on measured cholesterol only and does not take into account whether lipid-lowering medications were taken.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • In 2011–2012, an estimated 12.9% of U.S. adults aged 20 and over (11.1% of men and 14.4% of women) had high total cholesterol, which is unchanged since 2009–2010.
  • Approximately 17% of adults (just over one-quarter of men and less than 10% of women) had low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol during 2011–2012. The percentage of adults with low HDL cholesterol has decreased 20% since 2009–2010.
  • Nearly 70% of adults (67% of men and nearly 72% of women) had been screened for cholesterol, which is unchanged since 2009–2010.
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