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Study finds patients unsure how to manage cholesterol

High cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke, causing 2.6 million deaths each year.

By Amy Wallace
Study finds patients unsure how to manage cholesterol
A new survey by the American Heart Association finds most people with high cholesterol do not feel they know how to properly manage their cholesterol levels. Above, an illustration of a stent placed in an art placed in a blocked artery. Photo by Hywards/Shutterstock

April 12 (UPI) -- A new survey found people with high cholesterol may be unsure or lack confidence as to how to manage their cholesterol levels.

The survey by the American Heart Association was conducted as part of its Check.Change.Control.Cholesterol initiative, which helps people understand and manage their overall risk of heart disease.

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The survey included 800 participants in the United States with a history of cardiovascular disease or at least one major cardiovascular disease risk factor such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

"We wanted to get a sense of what people know about their cholesterol risk and its connection to heart disease and stroke, as well as how people engage with their healthcare providers to manage their risks," Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, a member of the American Heart Association's cholesterol advisory group, said in a press release. "We found even among those people at the highest risk for heart disease and stroke, overall knowledge was lacking and there was a major disconnect between perceptions about cholesterol and the significance of its health impact."

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The survey found that 47 percent of respondents with a known history or at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease had not had their cholesterol checked within the past year. Among survey respondents who had high cholesterol, 21 percent reported not having their cholesterol checked in the last year.

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Most respondents said they understood the importance of managing their cholesterol but were uncertain about their ability to do it.

The survey also found the most common treatment for high cholesterol was medication at 79 percent, exercise at 78 percent and diet changes at 70 percent.

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Participants also said they were unsure about what their target body weight should be and the differences between LDL and HDL cholesterol.

"Research suggests even modestly elevated cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease later in life, but these survey results show an alarming lack of communication between healthcare providers and those most at risk of cardiovascular disease," Bauman said.

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