Prescription Cholesterol-lowering Medication Use in Adults Aged 40 and Over: United States, 2003–2012

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Nearly one in three Americans dies of heart disease or stroke. Elevated blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for CVD, and statin therapy has been strongly associated with a reduced risk of atherosclerotic CVD. The national cholesterol treatment guidelines outline the importance of using cholesterol-lowering medications for the prevention of coronary heart disease.

Using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, an NCHS report evaluates recent trends in prescription cholesterol-lowering medication use among U.S. adults aged 40 and over.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • During 2003–2012, the percentage of adults aged 40 and over using a cholesterol-lowering medication in the past 30 days increased from 20% to 28%.
  • The use of statins increased from 18% to 26%. By 2011–2012, 93% of adults using a cholesterol-lowering medication used a statin.
  • Cholesterol-lowering medication use increased with age, from 17% of adults aged 40–59 to 48% of adults aged 75 and over.
  • About 71% of adults with cardiovascular disease and 54% of adults with hypercholesterolemia used a cholesterol-lowering medication.
  • Adults aged 40–64 with health insurance were more likely than those without health insurance to use a cholesterol-lowering medication.
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