One in every six adults has high blood cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in recent years, the number of those with high blood pressure has declined in Lucas County, Ohio, even as blood cholesterol tests continue to increase.
According to the 2013-2014 Lucas County Health Assessment, our community is showing progress in reducing the number of high cholesterol diagnoses. In 2007, 34% were diagnosed with high blood pressure. By 2011, it decreased to 27%, and in 2014, it decreased to 25%, well below the state average of 39% and the national average of 38%.
The number of cholesterol tests men and women have received has continued to increase in Lucas County since 2007. In fact, 80% of men and women had their blood cholesterol checked within the past five years, as is recommended.
Thomas Pappas, MD, FACC, a cardiologist with ProMedica Physicians Cardiology explains, “Since cholesterol is one of the things we can alter and affect your risk, it’s important to know your numbers.”
It’s recommended that women and men get their cholesterol testing beginning at age 35. If risk factors for heart disease — such as high blood pressure, family history of heart disease, smoking, diabetes, or being overweight — are present, testing should begin at age 20.
“Cholesterol is important for the body and functions in a variety of ways,” said Dr. Pappas. “The problem is when certain types of cholesterol are elevated, which leads to coronary artery narrowing and increases your risk for a heart attack and death.”
The increase in blood cholesterol testing and decrease of high blood cholesterol may suggest that more people in Lucas County are managing their health better. And managing cholesterol levels may rely more lifestyle changes rather than medication.
“Most people with high blood pressure start out with diet and exercise to control high cholesterol,” said Dr. Pappas. “There has been a shift in the thinking recently as to who receives medicine for cholesterol. If it’s elevated, your doctor may or may not recommend medication.”
Cholesterol checks and effective management are improving the health of those in our community. Follow the recommendations for getting your cholesterol checked and develop a plan of care with your doctor to lower your levels if needed.