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CDC: Americans getting a handle on cholesterol

The number of Americans with high total cholesterol has declined by nearly one-third since 1999.

By Amy Wallace
New research by the CDC suggests efforts to educate Americans on healthier diets as part of an effort to lower the rate of high cholesterol has been continuously effective for the last 17 years. Photo by Hywards/Shutterstock
New research by the CDC suggests efforts to educate Americans on healthier diets as part of an effort to lower the rate of high cholesterol has been continuously effective for the last 17 years. Photo by Hywards/Shutterstock

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that improvements in the rate of high total cholesterol in Americans has remained steady.

Total and HDL cholesterol are commonly used to assess a patient's health along with systolic blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. Doctors use these factors to identify risk for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

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Total cholesterol is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and is based on LDL, often referred to as bad cholesterol, HDL, or good cholesterol, and triglycerides, which are a type of fat in the blood used for energy by the body.

The study, published today by the CDC, found that from 1999-2000 to 2015-2016 there were declining trends in high total cholesterol levels and from 2007-2008 to 2015-2016 in low HDL cholesterol. CDC researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the study.

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The analysis reveals that about 12.4 percent of adults had high total cholesterol in 2015-2016, down from a high of 18.3 percent in 1999-2000. The percentage of adults with low HDL cholesterol has dropped to 18.4 percent, down from 22.2 percent in 2007-2008.

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The study showed the incidence of high total cholesterol was greater in men aged 40-59 than men aged 20-39 and 60 and older. Roughly 18 percent of adults had low HDL cholesterol, especially among Hispanics when compared to non-Hispanic white, black and Asian adults.

Researchers believe the results come from a growing awareness of the danger of having high cholesterol, the reduction of the use of artificial trans fats in food production, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and more health conscious diets.

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