Doctors can improve treating LDL cholesterol

Originally posted in Insidermedicine

Identification and treatment of individuals with high LDL or “bad” cholesterol has improved in recent years, but patients are still slipping through the cracks, according to a survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Here is some information about LDL cholesterol:

• If too much is circulating in the blood, it can begin to build up on the walls of blood vessels

• Buildup of cholesterol contributes to the development of plaque in the blood vessels

• Plaque makes blood vessels narrower and less flexible and increase the risk for heart attack and stroke

Using information collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed changes in the prevalence of high LDL cholesterol and well as the screening for and treatment of this disease from 1999 to 2006. They included in their analysis over 7,000 residents of the U.S who were 20 years of age or older.

From 1999 to 2006, the prevalence of high LDL cholesterol dropped from about 31% to 21%. During that same time period, the proportion of individuals reporting that they took cholesterol-lowering drugs increased from 8% to 13%. Screening for high LDL cholesterol remained steady over the years at about 70%. While management of LDL cholesterol had improved by the years 2005-2006, during this time period, about 35% of those with high cholesterol remained unscreened, 25% were undiagnosed, and 40% were un- or under-treated. Among those at high risk for cardiovascular events who were candidates for cholesterol-lowering drugs, 20% were not receiving them.

Today’s research demonstrates that while great progress has taken place in the treatment of high LDL cholesterol over the past several years, there is still a need for further improvement. Ask your physician whether your cholesterol levels should be tested.

✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories