Lowering cholesterol levels

The National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report about serum cholesterol in US adults, showing a trend towards decreasing cholesterol levels since 1999 (see report with graphs here).  As is expected, cholesterol levels were higher for older adults.  They were, however, significantly higher for women over 60 than for men over 60. 

This decrease in cholesterol levels is being attributed in large part to the increased use of cholesterol-lowering medications (the statins) in the US.  Are women not being offered medications equally?  Not clear, but there could be a few explanations.  (I’m speculating)

– Men tend to maintain a higher level of physical activity.

– Men may be offered cholesterol-lowering drugs sooner than women because men are at higher risk of heart disease.

The most alarming point of the study, however, is that 8% of people had cholesterol levels at least 240 mg/dL and had not been told so by their “health care provider”.  Sounds like a good population to focus efforts at prevention of cardiovascular disease.


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