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.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.
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 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

High Total Cholesterol Levels
Racial or Ethnic Group Men, % Women, %
Non-Hispanic Blacks 10.6 10.3
Hispanics 13.1 9.0
Non-Hispanic Whites 10.9  14.8
Non-Hispanic Asians 11.3 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.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

More Information

From CDC:

References

  1. Virani SS, Alonso A, Aparicio HJ, Benjamin EJ, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2021 update: a report from the American Heart Associationexternal icon. Circulation. 2021;143:e254–e743.
  2. Starks MA, Schmicker RH, Peterson ED, May S, Buick JE, Kudenchuk PJ, et al. Association of neighborhood demographics with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest treatment and outcomes, where you live may matterexternal icon. JAMA Cardiol. 2017;2(10):1110–1118.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. HealthFinder.gov. Get Your Cholesterol Checkedexternal icon. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.