Study uncovers poor control of high cholesterol
by Anna Seward
The majority of people with high cholesterol do not receive the treatment they need to reduce their risk of heart disease, an international study has found.
Research published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation looked at the provision of treatment for high cholesterol in England, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Scotland, Thailand and the US.
The study - which looked at 147 million people - revealed that many are unaware they have high cholesterol, while a significant proportion of diagnosed patients remain untreated despite the availability of low-cost medicines.
For instance, 78 per cent of adults who were surveyed in Thailand had not been diagnosed, while 53 per cent of Japanese people had been diagnosed but were not receiving treatment.
Co-author Dr Gregory Roth, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in the US, said that cholesterol-lowering medication was 'widely available, highly effective and can play an essential role in reducing cardiovascular disease'.
'Despite these facts, effective medication coverage for control of high cholesterol remains disappointingly low,' he added.
The report also shows that the proportion of people in England who have high cholesterol but have achieved good control has risen steadily in recent years.
In 1993, just 0.6 per cent of men and 0.4 per cent of women with high cholesterol were on cholesterol-lowering drugs and had achieved good control.
By 2006, these figures had risen to 35.5 per cent of men and 25.7 per cent of women.
The report authors observed that barriers to treatment have been reduced in the UK, with over-the-counter statins becoming available in 2004.
However, progress is still needed on a global scale to improve access to medication and extend screening programmes for high cholesterol.
01 February 2011, 14:31