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High Cholesterol Facts

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

High Cholesterol in the United States

  • In 2011–2012, 78 million U.S. adults (nearly 37%) had low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels that fall in the range where experts recommend cholesterol medicine or had other health conditions putting them at high risk for heart disease and stroke.1
  • Slightly more than half of U.S. adults (55%, or 43 million) who need cholesterol medicine are currently taking it.1
  • 95 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels greater than 200 mg/dL. Nearly 29 million adult Americans have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.2
  • 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 Cholesterol Levels Vary by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex

The chart below shows the percentages of people with high total cholesterol (200 mg/dL or more) in the United States.2

Racial or Ethnic Group Men, % Women, %
Non-Hispanic Blacks 32.6 36.1
Hispanics 43.1 41.2
Non-Hispanic Whites 37.0  43.4
Non-Hispanic Asians 39.9 40.5

Americans Are Making Progress on High Cholesterol

  • The percentage of American adults with high total (>240 mg/dL) cholesterol decreased from 18.3% in 1999–2000 to 11.0% in 2013–2014.5
  • All adults should have their cholesterol levels checked once every 4 to 6 years. Nearly 70% of U.S. adults reported having their cholesterol checked within the last 5 years.4

More Information

From CDC:

References

  1. 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. MMWR. 2015;64(47):1305–11.
  2. Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, Cushman M, Das SR, Deo R, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2017 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135:e1–e458.
  3. Nguyen DT, Kit BK, Carroll MD. Abnormal Cholesterol Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2011–2014. NCHS Data Brief, no 228. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2015.
  4. Carroll MD, Kit BK, Lacher DA, Yoon SSS. Total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011–2012. NCHS Data Brief. 2013;(132):1–8.
  5. Carroll, MD, Fryar CD, Kit BK. Total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in adults: United States, 2011–2014. NCHS data brief, no 226. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.
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