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Incidence of High Cholesterol Drops in U.S.
Date:11/17/2009

Down by 30 percent, but those with high levels often don't know it, study finds

TUESDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The good news is that a new report shows the percentage of American adults with high LDL cholesterol, the "bad" kind that clogs arteries, decreased by about one-third between 1999 and 2006.

The bad news is that too many of those who have dangerously high levels of LDL cholesterol don't know it, said study author Dr. Elena V. Kuklina, an epidemiologist and senior service fellow at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her research is published in the Nov. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"In the group with high LDL cholesterol, 60 percent of these people do not know they have this condition," Kuklina said. "They are in two major groups -- those who have never been screened, and those who have been screened but not diagnosed."

It is not as easy to test for LDL, rather than total blood cholesterol levels, including "good" HDL, Kuklina said. An LDL test requires fasting for the previous eight hours, "and if you are not prepared for this test, it is not going to be correct," she said. But testing someone and then not informing that person of a dangerously high LDL cholesterol level is not easy to explain, she said.

While many studies have found that overall cholesterol levels in American adults are decreasing, there has not been much information on LDL levels, Kuklina said. The study she did with colleagues at the CDC used data from consecutive results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It found that overall prevalence of high LDL cholesterol levels decreased from 31.5 percent in 1999-2000 to 21.2 percent in 2005-2006.

But there is no single definition of high LDL, the report noted. For persons at high risk of major problems because they have diagnosed heart disease, stroke or other cardiovascular conditions, the d
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