QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Aged 20 Years or Older Told Their Cholesterol Was High Who Were Taking Lipid-Lowering Medications by Sex and Age Group — National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2006 to 2015–2016

July 16, 2018

The percentage of men told by a health professional that their cholesterol was high who were taking lipid-lowering medications increased from 36% in 2005–2006 to 50% in 2015–2016 among those aged 60 years or older but not among those aged 20–39 years (1% to 2%) or 40–59 years (16% to 17%).

The percentage taking lipid-lowering medications also increased (from 33% to 38%) among women aged 60 years or older but not among women aged 20–39 years (1% to 0.7%) or 40–59 years (from 13% to 11%).

For each survey year from 2005–2006 to 2015–2016, the percentage of both men and women with high cholesterol taking lipid-lowering medications was higher among those aged ≥60 years than those in younger age groups.

Source:  Carroll MD, Mussilino ME, Wolz M, Srinivas PR. Trends in apolipoprotein B, non–high-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein for adults 60 years and older by use of lipid-lowering medications: United States, 2005–2006 to 2013–2014 [Research Letter]. Circulation 2018;138:208–10. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/138/2/208

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6727a6.htm?s_cid=mm6727a6_e

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Total and High-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Adults: United States, 2015–2016

October 26, 2017

Questions for Margaret Carroll, M.S.P.H., Health Statistician and Lead Author on “Total and High-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Adults: United States, 2015–2016

Q: How has the prevalence of high total cholesterol and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in U.S. changed since 1999-2000 to 2015-2016?

MC: The prevalence of high total cholesterol (>=240 mg/dL) of adults 20 years and older declined from 1999-2000 to 2015-2016; the prevalence of low high-density lipoprotein(HDL) cholesterol (<40 mg/dL) declined  in adults 20 years and older from 2007-2008 to 2015-2016.  No change was seen from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016 in either high total cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol.


Q: Why is it important to study the prevalence of high total and low HDL cholesterol?

MC: High levels of total cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

Also, as part of its objectives to improve the health of the U.S. population, Healthy People 2020 has included the goal of reducing the proportion of adults with high total blood cholesterol to less than 13.5%. Both men and women aged 20 and over currently meet this goal. However, not all subgroups meet this target.


Q: Was there anything in the report that surprised you?

MC: The findings did not particularly surprise me.  Based on the earliest available and comparable data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), declining trends were observed in high total cholesterol from 1999–2000 to 2015–2016 and in low HDL cholesterol from 2007–2008 to 2015–2016. However, the observed change for high total and low HDL cholesterol from 2013–2014 to 2015–2016 was not statistically significant.


Q: How does the prevalence of high total and low HDL cholesterol breakdown by age and gender in U.S.?

MC: Men ages 40-59 years have a higher prevalence of high total cholesterol than men ages 20-39 years and 60 years and older but there is no significant difference between men 20-39 years and those 60 years and older.  The prevalence of high total cholesterol is lower in women ages 20-39 years than in women 40-59 years and 60 years and older but there is no significant difference between women 40-59 years and 60 years and older.

Men ages 40-59 years have a higher prevalence of low HDL cholesterol than men 60 years and older.  A declining trend in the prevalence of low HDL cholesterol was seen in women from 20-39 years and 60 years and older.


Q: What is the take-home message from this report? 

MC: High total cholesterol has declined in adults 20 years from 1999-2000 to 2015-2016 and low HDL cholesterol has declined from 2007-2008 to 2015-2016.


Prevalence of Low High-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Among Adults, by Physical Activity: United States, 2011-2014

March 3, 2017

Questions for Marissa L. Zwald, Ph.D., M.P.H., Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer and Lead Author on “Prevalence of Low High-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Among Adults, by Physical Activity: United States, 2011-2014

Q: Why did you conduct this study?

MZ: We produced this report because we wanted to offer statistics that highlight how regular physical activity can reduce illness from chronic diseases and premature death. In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services released the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. We wanted to provide the most recent national estimates of low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (or serum HDL cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL) by whether or not adults met these national physical activity guidelines, and to understand how these patterns differed by sex, age, race and Hispanic origin, and education level.


Q: What caused you to focus your report on low HDL cholesterol and physical activity?

MZ: HDL cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol because having high levels can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. We know from previous research that regular physical activity can help increase HDL cholesterol levels.


Q: Was there a result in your study’s analysis that you hadn’t expected and that really surprised you?

MZ: The differences among some subgroups that we examined were quite striking. Our study confirmed that less active adults were more likely to have low HDL cholesterol. Interestingly, differences in low HDL cholesterol by physical activity were more pronounced in some subgroups we examined, including older adults (aged 60 and over), non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and college graduates. More in-depth research is needed to explore why the association between physical activity and low HDL cholesterol levels is stronger for some groups than others.


Q: What differences, if any, did you see among race and ethnic groups?

MZ: Among non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black adults, low HDL cholesterol prevalence was significantly higher among those who did not meet the physical activity guidelines compared with those who met the guidelines.


Q: What is the take home message of this report?

MZ: I think the take home message of this report is that while sex and age can affect HDL cholesterol levels, there are also lifestyle changes that can improve HDL levels – and this includes being physically active and meeting the national physical activity guidelines.


Abnormal Cholesterol Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2011–2014

December 11, 2015

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death among adults in the United States.

To improve the cardiovascular health of the U.S. population, clinical practice guidelines recommend screening children and adolescents for risk factors associated with CVD, including abnormal blood cholesterol levels.

An NCHS report provides 2011–2014 estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on the prevalence of high total cholesterol, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and high non-HDL cholesterol among children and adolescents aged 6–19.

Findings:

  • One in five youths had high total cholesterol, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or high non-HDL cholesterol.
  • Prevalence of low HDL cholesterol (13.4%) was greater than high non-HDL cholesterol (8.4%) or high total cholesterol (7.4%).
  • Prevalence of high total cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and high non-HDL cholesterol was greater in adolescents than children.
  • Girls had higher prevalence than boys for high total cholesterol and high non-HDL cholesterol, but lower prevalence for low HDL cholesterol.
  • Youth with obesity had greater prevalence of high total cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and high non-HDL cholesterol than youth of normal weight.

 


Total and High-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Adults: United States, 2011–2014

December 1, 2015

High levels of total cholesterol and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”) are risk factors for coronary heart disease. During 2009–2010, 13.4% of adults had high total cholesterol and 21.3% had low HDL cholesterol.

An NCHS report presents estimates of the percentage of adults with high total and low HDL cholesterol during 2011–2014, and trends in prevalence of high total and low HDL cholesterol from 2007–2008 to 2013–2014. Analysis is based on measured cholesterol only and does not account for cholesterol-lowering medication use.

Findings:

  • During 2011–2014, 12.1% of adults had high total cholesterol and 18.5% had low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
  • The prevalence of high total cholesterol was lower in non-Hispanic black men than in non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Asian, and Hispanic men, and lower in non-Hispanic black women than in non-Hispanic white and Hispanic women.
  • Low HDL cholesterol prevalence was lower in non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic Asian men and women than in Hispanic men and women; in non-Hispanic black men and women than in non-Hispanic white men and women; and in non-Hispanic Asian women than in non-Hispanic white women.
  • From 2007 to 2014, the percentage of adults with high total and low HDL cholesterol declined.

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

December 23, 2014

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.

High Total Cholesterol Remains Unchanged in Adults

October 24, 2013

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.