AHA: Patients Uncertain About Cholesterol Management

APRIL 13, 2017
A new survey conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) has found that patients are often uncertain about how to manage their cholesterol, according to a press release about the AHA’s findings.
The survey included 800 U.S. participants with either a history of cardiovascular disease or at least 1 major cardiovascular disease risk factor. Nearly half (47%) of the survey’s respondents had not had their cholesterol checked within the past year. Although respondents with high cholesterol reported more recent testing, 21% of those with high cholesterol had not had their cholesterol recently checked.
Other survey findings:
  • Most participants with high cholesterol said they understood the importance of managing their cholesterol, but were confused, discouraged, or uncertain about their ability to do so.
  • 82% of participants identified a link between cholesterol and heart disease and stroke risk.
  • Participants with a history of cardiovascular disease had lower perceptions of their actual medical risk of heart disease.
  • Only 29% recognized they were at a high risk for having another cardiovascular disease event.
  • Primary care providers were the health care professionals most likely to first diagnose high cholesterol, and were who participants talked about cholesterol with most often.
  • The most common treatment recommendation given by health care providers were medication (79%), exercise (78%), and diet modifications (70%).
  • Participants with high cholesterol felt they were least informed about what should be their target body weight, the differences between the types of cholesterol (LDL vs HDL), and goals for cholesterol management. 
“Research suggests even modestly elevated cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease later in life,” Mary Ann Bauman, MD, member of the AHA’s cholesterol advisory group, said in the press release. “But these survey results show an alarming lack of communication between health care providers and those most at risk for cardiovascular disease.”
Although current guidelines recommend lifestyle modifications as a first-line therapy, health care providers should discuss other risk factors, such as genetics and family history, with patients to determine the best treatment option.
American Heart Association survey finds patients uncertain about how to best manage their cholesterol [news release]. Dallas. AHA’s website. . Accessed April 12, 2017.