At a time when more than a third of the U.S. population fell under the umbrella of taking or being eligible to take cholesterol-lowering medication, many of the adults in such a category made no attempt to improve their health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s analysis of data from the 2005-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys.
The researchers assessed as a group adults who met criteria in the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association cholesterol management guidelines, as well as those currently taking cholesterol-lowering medication. At the time of the survey, 78.1 million (36.7%) of the U.S. population aged 21 and over had taken or were eligible for cholesterol-lowering treatments, the investigators noted.
Among those who were on, or were eligible for taking, cholesterol-lowering medication, 55.5% said they were taking their drugs, 46.6% reported having made lifestyle modifications such as exercising and adopting a heart-healthy diet, and 37.1 % reported making lifestyle modifications and taking cholesterol-lowing medications. Although many Americans with high cholesterol levels made efforts to decrease their cholesterol levels, the researchers noted that 35.5% of the adults who needed or used cholesterol-lowering drugs neither took the medicine nor implemented appropriate lifestyle changes.
There were significant differences in the proportion of men (52.9%) and women (58.6%) taking cholesterol drugs (P = .010), as well as among racial/ethnic groups (whites, 58.0%; Mexican-Americans, 47.1%; and blacks, 46.0%; P less than .001).
“This report is one of the first to examine sex and racial/ethnic differences in medication use in a nationally representative sample of adults who are eligible for treatment,” wrote Carla Mercado, Ph.D., of the CDC and her colleagues.
The researchers recommended that stakeholders “implement evidence-based interventions from the Guide to Community Preventive Services to improve screening and management of cholesterol.”
Read the article in MMWR (2015 Dec 4;64:1305-11. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6447a1).