When High Cholesterol Goes Under the Radar

High cholesterol was untreated in most US Hispanic adults with the condition

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Heart disease is one of the biggest health problems in the United States. And when adults don't know they have risk factors for heart disease, the problem becomes harder to address. That may be the case with at least one group of people in the US.

A new study found that only half of Hispanic Americans with high cholesterol were aware of their condition.

Also, only 30 percent who knew they had high cholesterol had received treatment.

“Lack of awareness is a problem with roots at different levels in Hispanics: access to care and patient/provider difficulties such as language barriers or cultural insensitivity may further contribute to these gaps,” said lead author Carlos J. Rodriguez, MD, of Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston Salem, NC, in a press statement.

Dr. Marc Goldschmidt, director of the Heart Success Program at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey, told dailyRx News that "This is one of the few trials to look exclusively at the Hispanic population — a historically underserved, understudied population. Unfortunately, the trial demonstrates that [high cholesterol] is both underappreciated and undertreated in this patient population. This reinforces the need for the medical community to reach out to the Hispanic community to allow for more education, screening, and diagnosis of Latinos with high cholesterol."

Having high cholesterol increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Much past research has tied high cholesterol to a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke. High cholesterol is usually treatable through lifestyle changes and medications like statins.

For this study, Dr. Rodriguez and team collected health data on more than 16,000 Hispanic adults for three years.

They found that about 45 percent of these patients had high cholesterol.

However, almost half of those adults did not know they had high cholesterol. Less than one-third had been treated for high cholesterol.

People who were recent immigrants, uninsured, young or female were more likely than other groups to have untreated high cholesterol, Dr. Rodriguez and colleagues found.

Of the patients who were being treated for high cholesterol, 64.3 percent had their cholesterol under control.

“Heart disease remains an equal opportunity threat to the health of everyone; no person is immune,” said Clyde W. Yancy, MD, spokesperson for the American Heart Association, in a press statement.

Dr. Yancy called for more high cholesterol risk factor reduction — specifically for Hispanics — to reduce heart disease rates.

This study was published June 24 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded this research. Dr. Rodriguez disclosed financial ties to Alnylam and Amgen, two pharmaceutical companies.


Review Date: 
June 22, 2015
Last Updated:
July 5, 2015