High risk of heart disease is related to high total cholesterol level (HDL plus LDL), low HDL level, and other risk factors including smoking, high blood pressure, a family history of heart disease, a diet high in saturated fats, and insufficient exercise.
According to a 2011 report by the World Health Organization (WHO):
“Cardiovascular disease caused over 18 million deaths in the world in 2005. Of these deaths, eight million (44%) occurred in people under 60 years of age and 80% took place in low- and middle-income countries. People with high total cholesterol have approximately twice the risk for heart disease as people with ideal levels.” 1
The authors of the report, which covered millions of people across eight different countries in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, concluded that many of the people in these areas were “unaware that they need treatment, which is easily accessible in the form of low-cost medicines.”1
Within the United States:
- 73.5 million adults (31.7% of the population) have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol
- Less than half (48.1%) of adults with high LDL cholesterol are getting treatment to lower their levels
According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all adults should have their cholesterol levels checked once every 5 years.
The measurement of cholesterol blood levels classifies patients according to coronary heart disease risk, enables diagnosis and treatment of various primary or secondary hyperlipidemias, and monitors changes resulting from treatment.
However, a gap exists with regard to cholesterol testing, even within the US, where testing is more prevalent. During the 2009-2010 period, only 69.4% of Americans age 20 and older reported that they had their cholesterol checked within the last 5 years.
1 Gregory A Roth a, Stephan D Fihn, et. al. “High total serum cholesterol, medication coverage and therapeutic control: an analysis of national health examination survey data from eight countries,” Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2011;89:92-101. Accessed online July 1, 2015 at http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/2/10-079947/en/.