People who have high cholesterol may understand they need to manage their condition, but many aren’t sure how to do that, nor do they feel confident they can, according to a new survey from the American Heart Association.
The survey was conducted as part of Check.Change.Control.Cholesterol™, the association’s new initiative to help people better understand and manage their overall risk for cardiovascular disease, especially as it relates to cholesterol. Participants included nearly 800 people from across the country with either a history of cardiovascular disease (e.g. heart attack, stroke) or at least one major cardiovascular disease risk factor, (e.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes).
High cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke, causing about 2.6 million deaths each year. Yet, nearly half (47 percent) of survey respondents with a known history of or at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke, had not had their cholesterol checked within the past year. Respondents with high cholesterol reported more recent testing, although 21 percent of them had not had their cholesterol checked in the past year.
Among other survey findings:
- Most people with high cholesterol said they understood the importance of managing their cholesterol, being confused, discouraged and uncertain about their ability to do so.
- 82% of all respondents identified a link between cholesterol and risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Overall, people with a history of cardiovascular had lower perceptions of their real medical risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Patients with a history of cardiovascular disease are at high risk for having another cardiovascular disease event, but among these patients, only 29% recognized they were high risk for another cardiovascular disease event.
- Primary care providers were the healthcare professionals who participants talked about cholesterol with most often, and were more likely the ones to first diagnose high cholesterol.
- The most common treatment recommendation given by healthcare providers were medication (79%), exercise (78%) and diet modifications (70%).
- Patients with high cholesterol felt they were least informed about what should be their target body weight, the differences between the types of cholesterol (LDL vs HDL) and goals for cholesterol management.
- Nearly 94.6 million, or 40%, of American adults, have total cholesterol above 200 mg/dL with approximately 12% over 240 mg/dL.