High Cholesterol Facts

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

High Cholesterol in the United States

  • In 2015–2018, nearly 12% of adults age 20 and older had total cholesterol higher than 240 mg/dL, and about 17% had high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL.1
  • Slightly more than half of U.S. adults (54.5%, or 47 million) 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 higher than 200 mg/dL. Twenty-eight million adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.1
  • 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.

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

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 Blacks 9.2 10.5
Hispanics 12.4 9.2
Non-Hispanic Whites 10.1  13.1
Non-Hispanic Asians 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 people who have heart disease or diabetes or who have a family history of high cholesterol, need to get their cholesterol checked more often.4

More Information

From CDC:

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. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(35):983–91.
  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. 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.