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.
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, %|
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.