Cholesterol & Your Doctor: Ask For Your Numbers

A woman in a black shirt holding a red paper heart

Nearly a third of both African American men and African American women have LDL-C (bad cholesterol) levels of 130mg/dL or higher according to the American Heart Association. The National Institute of Health considers this level borderline high. This is alarming because high cholesterol— specifically LDL cholesterol—can lead to heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. This is especially concerning as heart disease is responsible for 1 in 4 (24.5%) African American deaths every year.

Cholesterol Counts is an awareness program around Americans’ knowledge about cholesterol, their numbers, and the risks associated with high LDL-C. Based on the first wave of results from Cholesterol Counts, African Americans do not know enough about their cholesterol.

The results show that 62% of African American respondents said they are not sure of or do not recall their LDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, while 28% of African Americans agree managing their high LDL cholesterol is a top priority, 41% of African Americans report they could be doing more to manage their high LDL cholesterol levels.

Dr. Ralph Vicari, cardiologist and member of the Foundation of the National Lipid Association, recently spoke with BlackDoctor.org about the survey findings.

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BDO: Why is it so important to understand that “cholesterol counts”?

Dr. Vicari: High cholesterol, and specifically high LDL-C (bad cholesterol), is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, which are the number one and number three causes of death in the U.S. It is important for patients to know their levels and talk to a healthcare provider to help manage cholesterol and assess the risk of potential cardiac events.

Cholesterol Counts aims to rally Americans to take an active role in understanding there is more to be done to control high LDL-C, and to reinvigorate the conversation on cholesterol management between patients and their physicians and healthcare providers.