Cholesterol Levels Vary Widely by Country:
MONDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- People's average cholesterol
levels seem to rise and fall along with their countries' economies
and ease of access to quality health care, according to a new
Researchers examined data from thousands of patients with a
history of high cholesterol (more than 200 milligrams per
deciliter) in 36 countries, including the United States.
The analysis revealed that countries with higher overall income
levels, lower out-of-pocket health care costs, and high-performing
and efficient health systems tend to have lower rates of high
cholesterol among people who'd had a history of high
For patients with no history of high cholesterol, there was no
association between a country's economy and health care system and
the risk of high cholesterol.
Among the specific findings:
- Rates of total high cholesterol varied widely, ranging from 73
percent in Bulgaria to 24 percent in Finland.
- Rates of elevated cholesterol levels in patients were
particularly high in the following Eastern European countries:
Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Ukraine, Hungary and Russia. These
countries also scored relatively low in terms of their economies
and health systems.
- The United States' rate of people with elevated cholesterol
levels was similar to that of other developed countries -- such as
Australia, Canada, Finland, Israel and the United Kingdom -- but
U.S. spending on health care was considerably higher than other
The study appears April 9 in the journal
The optimum management of heart disease is difficult, and
differences in rates of high cholesterol between nations "may be
due to differences in clinical guidelines, as well as whether and
the extent to which guidelines are followed and specific
initiatives are effectively implemented," lead author Elizabeth
Magnuson, director of the Health Economics and Technology
Assessment at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas
City, Mo., said in a journal news release.
She added that the association between high out-of-pocket health
care costs for patients and their higher cholesterol levels "may
reflect an inability or unwillingness" among these patients to take
the medicines they've been prescribed. However, "the recent
availability of generic cholesterol-lowering therapy should make
out-of-pocket expense less of a barrier," Magnuson noted.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
Copyright © 2012
. All rights reserved.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.