Cholesterol Screening in US Adults and Awareness of High Cholesterol Among Individuals With Severe Hypertriglyceridemia: National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2001–2008

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Abstract

Background:

Cholesterol screening is an effective method for identifying individuals with elevated triglyceride levels. Individuals with severe hypertriglyceridemia (SHTG; ≥500 mg/dL) have a substantially higher risk for developing coronary heart disease and acute pancreatitis than individuals with lower triglyceride levels.

Objective:

The aims of this study were to estimate the proportion of US adults who reported having their cholesterol checked, to evaluate the characteristics associated with having cholesterol checked, and to assess factors that are associated with awareness of having high cholesterol among adults with SHTG.

Methods:

The sample included 7988 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2001-2008. Polytomous logistic regression models were used to identify factors that were associated with time since the last cholesterol screening, categorized as never screened, screened less than 2 years ago, and screened 2 or more years ago.

Results:

Approximately 71% of the US adults reported ever having their cholesterol checked. Only 56% of the individuals with SHTG were aware of having high cholesterol. Factors associated with awareness of high cholesterol among those with SHTG included obesity, education, having insurance, having diabetes, and having a history of cardiovascular events.

Conclusions:

Most adults in the United States have had their cholesterol checked; however, only half of those with SHTG were aware of having high cholesterol. Awareness is the first step in implementing strategies to attenuate the health risks associated with dyslipidemia.

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