"Under-treatment of cholesterol disorders is a major public health challenge," said lead author David Goff Jr., M.D., Ph.D. "In our study of middle-age and older adults with no symptoms of cardiovascular disease, about a third had cholesterol disorders that would require drug treatment under current guidelines. Yet, only 54 percent of those who needed treatment were getting it."
In addition, the researchers found that cholesterol control was lowest in study participants who were at the highest risk of developing heart vessel disease. Cholesterol disorders such as having "good" cholesterol that is too low or "bad" cholesterol that is too high are a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.
"Cardiovascular disease is a significant health problem in this country and lipid-lowering therapy has been proven to help prevent it," said Goff, a professor of public health sciences and internal medicine at Wake Forest's School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Our research illustrates the importance of improving the treatment and control of cholesterol disorders and eliminating treatment disparities."
The data came from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a population-based study of 6,814 men and women who had no known cardiovascular disease. Caucasian, Hispanic, Chinese and African-American participant were recruited some six communities (Forsyth County, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, northern Manhattan, N.Y., and St. Paul, Minn.).