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.

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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.

More Adults taking using Cholesterol-Lowering Medicine

March 29, 2013

The man pictured here, was in the process of making some healthy food choices during his shopping adventure at a mobile produce market, which he would place into a yellow plastic basket he was carrying in his right hand.Each year, more than 2 million Americans suffer from acute cardiovascular events that account for approximately one-fourth of the total cost of inpatient hospital care.  Control of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL–C) has been shown to substantially reduce cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality.  It can be managed with lifestyle changes, medications, or a combination of these approaches. A diet low in saturated fat is recognized as one of the most effective lifestyle changes to decrease high LDL–C. 

NCHS has released a report that evaluates the trends in high LDL–C, use of cholesterol-lowering medication, and low dietary saturated-fat intake from 1976–1980 through 2007–2010 among adults aged 40–74.

Key findings from the report:

  • The prevalence of high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL–C, decreased from 59% to 27% from the late 1970s through 2007–2010.
  • The percentage of adults using cholesterol-lowering medication increased from 5% to 23% from the late 1980s through 2007–2010. 
  • The percentage of adults consuming a diet low in saturated fat increased from 25% to 41% from the late 1970s through 1988–1994.  
  • No significant changes in the percentage of adults consuming a diet low in saturated fat were observed from 1988–1994 through 2007–2010.

Use of cholesterol-lowering medications among adults aged 40–74 (age adjusted): United States, 1988–1994 to 2007–2010


High cholesterol? It could be happening to you…

January 27, 2010

In 2005–2006, 16% of adults had serum total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or greater (high cholesterol). The good news is that generally, for Americans 20 years of age and over, cholesterol levels are declining. However, this decline was seen for men 40 years and over and for women 60 years and over, with little change between 1999 and 2006 for all other age-sex groups.

What may be most disconcerting is the fact that many U.S. adults may not even know they have high cholesterol, with data from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey finding that 8% of U.S. adults had high cholesterol but had never been told by a health care provider that their cholesterol levels were high. For more data concerning high cholesterol, see the NCHS Data Brief on High Cholesterol. For more information on combating high cholesterol, visit the CDC Webpage on Cholesterol.