Despite advances in medical technology and cardiovascular disease (CVD) treatment, one of the biggest risk factors for CVD, high cholesterol, is running rampant in our communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 percent of American adults have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Of the 73.5 million people with high LDL cholesterol, less than 1 in 3 has it under control and less than half are getting treatment to get their numbers under control. The most shocking statistic for us as cardiovascular professionals is that the risk of heart disease doubles for people with high total cholesterol.
Because a variety of factors lead to high cholesterol, including a diet high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, being overweight, inactivity, age and family history , it’s a complex condition, but one that is highly preventable and treatable.
National Cholesterol Education Month, which takes place each September, is an opportunity to talk to our patients about high cholesterol and CVD risk. A new CardioSmart infographic is a useful tool to share with patients to explain the basics of high cholesterol. You can also point them to CardioSmart’s High Cholesterol Condition Center to get information on the different types of cholesterol, symptoms, causes, treatment options, the latest research and more. CardioSmart also has videos that explain the benefits of olive oil and the importance of knowing your cholesterol numbers.
Next week, CardioSmart and Million Hearts® will host a Twitter chat on the connection between cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. During the chat, I will answer patients’ questions about cholesterol and share helpful resources. Join the discussion on Sept. 16 at 12 p.m. ET by following @CardioSmart and @MillionHeartsUS and using the hashtag #Chol101.
Later this month, CardioSmart will host two patient education events on managing cholesterol in New Orleans, LA, and Pueblo, CO. In addition to getting up-to-speed on the basics of high cholesterol, patients will learn how to communicate effectively with their health care team and have the opportunity to ask experts questions.
While September is focused on educating patients about cholesterol, it’s also an opportunity to brush up on resources available for clinicians. You can stay up-to-date on all the latest cholesterol-related research by visiting the Dyslipidemia Clinical Topic Collection on ACC.org. Review the 2013 ACC/American Heart Association (AHA) Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults. An infographic on the top five points to remember about the guideline can be downloaded on this page. The ACC also has two cholesterol-related mobile apps available to members: 1) the ASCVD Risk Estimator and 2) the Statin Intolerance App.
Armed with these tools and resources, I’m confident that we can help our patients tackle high cholesterol and live healthier lifestyles.