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CDC: Too Few Taking Needed Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

Only half who should are using medications to help prevent cardiovascular disease

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FRIDAY, Dec. 4, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of American adults who should be taking cholesterol-lowering drugs don't, according to research published in the Dec. 4 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC study team analyzed national data from 2005 to 2014 and found that 36.7 percent of U.S. adults -- 78.1 million people aged 21 and older -- were eligible to take cholesterol-lowering medications or were already taking them. Among these people, 55.5 percent were taking cholesterol-lowering medication, 46.6 percent were making lifestyle changes to lower cholesterol, 37.1 percent were taking medication and making lifestyle changes, and 35.5 percent were doing neither. The study included all types of cholesterol-lowering drugs, but nearly 90 percent of those on medication were taking a statin.

Of the 40.8 percent of men eligible for or already on cholesterol medication, 52.9 percent were taking them. Among women, the figures were 32.9 and 58.6 percent, respectively. Of the 24.2 percent of Mexican-Americans eligible for or already on cholesterol medication, 47.1 percent were taking medications. The figures were 39.5 and 46.0 percent, respectively, among blacks, and 38.4 and 58.0 percent, respectively, among whites.

The lowest rate of taking recommended cholesterol medication (5.7 percent) was among blacks who did not have a regular place for health care. The highest rate (80 percent) was among people who said they already adopted a heart-healthy lifestyle.

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