Good news: High cholesterol is down in the United States. More good news: Low HDL cholesterol is down in the United States.
The prevalence of high total cholesterol in adults aged 20 years and older dropped from 18.3% in 1999-2000 to 10.5% in 2017-2018. And starting in 2007-2008, the prevalence of low HDL cholesterol declined from 22.2% to 16.0% in 2017-2018, the.
HDL cholesterol data before 2007 were not presented because of changes in laboratories and methods, but both trends are significant, and the decline in high total cholesterol means that the Healthy People 2020 goal of dropping prevalence to 13.5% has been met, said Margaret D. Carroll, MSPH, and Cheryl D. Fryar, MSPH, of the NCHS.
The demographic details, however, show some disparities hidden by the broader measures. The prevalence of low HDL cholesterol for women in 2015-2018 was 8.5%, but for men it was 26.6%, the NCHS investigators said.
And that Healthy People 2020 goal for total cholesterol? Age makes a difference: 7.5% of adults aged 20-39 years had high total cholesterol in 2015-2018, as did 11.4% of those aged 60 years and older, but those aged 40-59 years had a significantly higher prevalence of 15.7%, they reported.
Race/ethnicity was also a factor. Prevalence of low HDL was similar for white (16.6%) and Asian (15.8%) adults in 2015-2018, but black adults’ low HDL prevalence was significantly lower (11.9%) and Hispanics’ was significantly higher (21.9%), the researchers said.
The analysis was based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The investigators defined high total cholesterol as a level of 240 mg/dL or more, and low HDL cholesterol as less than 40 mg/dL. LDL cholesterol was not included in the analysis.