High Cholesterol Facts

Find up-to-date facts about high cholesterol in the United States.

High total cholesterol in the United States

  • Between 2015 and 2018, nearly 12% of adults age 20 and older had total cholesterol above 240 mg/dL, and about 17% had high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dL.1
  • Slightly more than half of U.S. adults (54.5%, or 47 million people) who could benefit from cholesterol medicine are currently taking it.2
  • Nearly 94 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL. Twenty-eight million adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dL.1
  • Nearly 7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.1
  • High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don’t know that their cholesterol is too high. A simple blood test can check cholesterol levels.
  • Having high blood cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death.
Self-reported High Total Cholesterol Among Adults 2017. Age-adjusted percent of adults ages 20 and older who answered yes to the question, have you ever been told by a doctor, nurse or other health professional that your blood cholesterol is high, by state. 23.2 to 27.6: Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming; 27.7 to 28.5: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico, ¬Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington; 28.6 to 29.8: Alaska, Arizona, District of Columbia, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island; 29.9 to 31.7: Delaware, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin; 31.8 to 33.7: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia.

The map shows that concentrations of counties with the highest cholesterol prevalence – meaning the top quintile – are located primarily in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Main, South Carolina, and Kansas. Pockets of high-rate counties also were found in Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and Washington.

Source: Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke

High total cholesterol levels vary by race/ethnicity and gender

The chart below shows the prevalence of high total cholesterol (240 mg/dL or more) among adults age 20 and older in the United States from 2015 to 2018.1

High Total Cholesterol Levels
Racial or Ethnic Group Males, % Females, %
Non-Hispanic Black Adults 9.2 10.5
Hispanic Adults 12.4 9.2
Non-Hispanic White Adults 10.1  13.1
Non-Hispanic Asian Adults 13.0 10.3

People in the United States are making progress on high cholesterol

About two thirds of U.S. adults say they have had their cholesterol checked within the last 5 years.3

Most healthy adults should have their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Some people, such as those who have heart disease, diabetes, or a family history of high cholesterol, need to get their cholesterol checked more often.4

More information

From CDC

Other organizations

References

  1. Tsao CW, Aday AW, Almarzooq ZI, Beaton AZ, Bittencourt MS, Boehme AK, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2022 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2022;145(8):e153–e639.
  2. Wall HK, Ritchey MD, Gillespie C, Omura JD, Jamal A, George MG. Vital Signs: prevalence of key cardiovascular disease risk factors for Million Hearts 2022—United States, 2011–2016. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2018;67(35):983–991.
  3. Carroll MD, Kit BK, Lacher DA, Yoon SS. Total and High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011–2012 [PDF – 778K]. NCHS data brief, no. 132. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2013.
  4. HealthFinder.gov. Get Your Cholesterol Checked. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.