Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cholesterol & Triglycerides Health Center

Font Size

Americans Don't Do Enough to Cut Hypertension, Cholesterol

CDC Report Finds Many in U.S. Need to Do More for High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 1, 2011 -- The CDC says in a new report that about two-thirds of adults in the U.S. who have high cholesterol levels and about half who have high blood pressure are not being treated as effectively as they could be, unnecessarily raising their risk of stroke or heart attacks.

More than 80% of people whose blood pressure or LDL “bad” cholesterol is not under control have either private or public health insurance, the CDC says.

This means that for many people, having the financial means to receive medical treatment is not sufficient to achieve blood pressure and LDL cholesterol goals, the CDC says in its Feb. 1 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Risk of Cardiovascular Events

The new numbers are disturbing because with more effort and vigilance on the part of doctors and patients, about 100,000 people who die annually from blood pressure or cholesterol-related problems might live, CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news briefing.

Heart attacks, strokes, and related vascular diseases kill more than 800,000 Americans annually, more than any other condition, he says, and of those, 150,000 are younger than 65.

Frieden says tens of thousands of lives could be saved with simple, low-cost treatments to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

He also says Americans need to cut back on salt consumption, which may lead to high blood pressure, and that the new report indicates that having health insurance is just one factor in the cardiovascular health equation.

Many people who have health insurance and see doctors regularly still have cholesterol and blood pressure problems, Frieden says.

He says that doctors could do more to help patients reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, and people could do more to help themselves.

The CDC report on which he was commenting says that people who lack health insurance have the lower rates of control of their cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

“Although we’re making some progress, the United States is failing to prevent the leading cause of death -- cardiovascular disease -- despite the existence of low cost, highly effective treatments,” Frieden says in a news release. “We need to do a better job of improving care and supporting patients to prevent avoidable illness, disability and death.”

Controlling Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

The report was based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, also known as NHANES, which is an ongoing study of the health and nutritional status of some 5,000 participants.

Among the key findings of the new report:

  • Almost one-third of adults have high blood pressure.
  • A third with high blood pressure do not get pharmacologic treatment.
  • About half of adults with high blood pressure do not have it under control.
  • A third of adults have high cholesterol.
  • About half of those with high cholesterol do not get treatment.
  • Two-thirds of those with high cholesterol do not have the condition under control.

The study team calls for the implementation of a comprehensive approach to improve access to health care and to find new ways to encourage patients to take necessary steps to reduce their risks of strokes and heart attacks by aggressively treating high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Is Your Cholesterol Level Heart Healthy?
What is your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) level?

Get the latest Cholesterol Management newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Desirable
0-199
Borderline
200-239
High
240+

Your level is currently

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal.

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is borderline high. If your LDL goes higher, your total cholesterol level could become Borderline High. Consider reducing the amount of foods you eat with saturated fats and increasing physical activity. If you get more exercise, your level of "good" HDL cholesterol may increase, which could also help to keep your levels of LDL and total cholesterol in check.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL. The HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL because the HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

woman pulling supplements from shelf
Can they help lower yours?
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
What it can do for you.
 
woman exercising
14 practical tips.
chocolate glazed donut and avocado
What your levels mean.
 
Heart Foods Slideshow
Slideshow
Cholesterol Fact or Fiction
Quiz
 
Food & Fitness Planner
TOOL
Attractive salad
ARTICLE
 
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
worst sandwich slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Fat Foods Fit Foods
SLIDESHOW
Bad Cholesterol
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections