CDC reports low cholesterol screening rates in the US


There was a time when heart diseases were linked with old age. But it is no more the condition now. According to CDC approximately 55% of American young adults (men aged 20 to 35 years; women aged 20 to 45 years) have at least one risk factor for coronary heart disease, such as high blood pressure, smoking, family history or obesity. I would say, though, the study gives data for Americans, but this might be the condition in most of the countries. Yesterday, I discussed about the heart disease awareness campaign BHB initiated by Chief Minister of Delhi, India to address this alarming issue.

The recent study reports that only about half of young adults in the United States undergo cholesterol screening and up to one-quarter of them have elevated levels of “bad” cholesterol. With increasing number of heart disease patients, experts suggest that cholesterol screening should begin as early as 20 years of age.

About the study
The study examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which explores the health and nutritional status of about 6,000 participants every year. Researchers analyzed results for 2,587 young adults. Elevated LDL-C (low density lipoprotein-cholesterol) was defined as levels higher than the goal specific for each heart disease risk category outlined in the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines.

The findings reported that elevated levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol were present in 7% of the participants with no...

other heart disease risk factors, 12% of those with one other risk factor, and 26 % of those with two or more other risk factors. However, the cholesterol screening rate for young adults is under 50%.

The report, “Prevalence of Coronary Heart disease Risk Factors and Screening for High Cholesterol Levels Among Young Adults, United States, 1999–2006,” is published in the July-August 2010 issue Annals of Family Medicine.

Dr. Elena Kuklina, a nutritional epidemiologist with the CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, said “What’s surprising and, quite frankly, rather concerning, is that we are doing such a poor job of identifying young adults in America who have elevated LDL cholesterol,”

I agree with Dr. kuklina, if cholesterol level is not diagnosed in initial stages, it can lead to serious heart conditions and increase mortality rate. Health experts and government should initiate health awareness programs and provide benefits to encourage them for screening of cholesterol on yearly basis.



2 Responses

  1. An additional test for cholesterol levels as a useful inflammation marker is the C-Reactive Protein (CRP) test. This is a substance produced by the body when arteries become inflamed and is a more powerful predictor of a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke than LDL cholesterol. It is fair to say the test is not infallible as it can sometimes point to inflammation caused by other factors such as arthritis, cancer or acute infection etc. Nonetheless there are many researchers who consider atherosclerosis as an inflammatory condition similar to other degenerative diseases. Some immunologists are even categorizing atherosclerosis as a benign tumour.

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