High Cholesterol Facts
Find up-to-date facts about high cholesterol in the United States.
High Cholesterol in the United States
- In 2015–2016, more than 12% of adults age 20 and older had total cholesterol higher than 240 mg/dL, and more than 18% had high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL.1
- Slightly more than half of the U.S. adults (55%, or 43 million) who could benefit from cholesterol medicine are currently taking it.2
- 93 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. Nearly 29 million adult Americans have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.3
- 7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.3
- 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.
High Total Cholesterol Levels Vary by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex
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 2016.1
|Racial or Ethnic Group||Men, %||Women, %|
Americans 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.4
Most healthy adults should have their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Some people, such as people who have heart disease or diabetes or who have a family history of high cholesterol, need to get their cholesterol checked more often.5
- Carroll M, Fryar C, Nguyen D. HDL, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: Total and High-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Adults: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS data brief, no. 290. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2017.
- Mercado C, DeSimone AK, Odom E, Gillespie C, Ayala C, Loustalot F. Prevalence of cholesterol treatment eligibility and medication use among adults—United States, 2005–2012. 2015;64(47):1305–11.
- Virani SS, Alonso A, Benjamin EJ, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2020 update: a report from the American Heart Associationexternal icon. Circulation. 2020;141(9):e139–e596.
- 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 icon[PDF – 778 KB]. NCHS data brief, no. 132. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2013.
- HealthFinder.gov. Get Your Cholesterol Checkedexternal icon. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.