Total Cholesterol Improves in U.S.
Average Total Cholesterol for U.S. Adults Now in the 'Desirable' Range, CDC Says
WebMD News Archive
Dec. 12, 2007 -- Total cholesterol is improving among U.S. adults, so much so that the U.S. has met its cholesterol goal early.
The CDC announced that news today, citing the nation's latest total cholesterol statistics.
The data, gathered in 2005-2006, show that U.S. adults' average total cholesterol level is 199 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).
That's within the range of desirable total cholesterol levels -- but just barely. Total cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or higher are considered borderline high risk.
The CDC's new cholesterol statistics also show that 16% of U.S. adults have total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which puts them at high risk of heart disease.
The U.S. government previously set a goal that by 2010, no more than 17% of U.S. adults would have total cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL.
That goal has now been met. But the CDC doesn't want people to slack on their efforts to control cholesterol through diet, exercise, and medications (if needed).
"High total cholesterol remains a significant public health problem in the United States," the CDC reports.
Total Cholesterol Improvement
In the early 1960s, the average total cholesterol level for U.S. adults was 220 mg/dL.
Just a few years ago, from 1999 to 2000, the average total cholesterol level for U.S. adults was 204 mg/dL. That's in the "borderline high risk" category.
Since then, men aged 40 and older and women aged 60 and older have improved their average total cholesterol, according to the CDC.
In 2005-2006, most men -- 65% -- and women -- 70% -- reported getting a cholesterol test within the previous five years.
But 8% of people with high total cholesterol levels reported that they had never been told by a health care worker that they had a cholesterol problem.
A simple blood test is all takes to check your cholesterol, and your doctor or other health care provider can help you interpret the results.
The CDC's new report is based on cholesterol tests taken in 2005-2006 by a nationally representative of U.S. adults. The report only includes total cholesterol levels, not levels of HDL ("good") or LDL ("bad") cholesterol.