Many US Women Lack Knowledge About Cholesterol

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Many U.S. women lack knowledge about cholesterol and screening efforts, according to a survey released Thursday by the Society for Women's Health Research, CQ HealthBeatreports. According the survey, more than 70% of women ages 55 and oldersaid they have had their cholesterol tested within the past year;however, nearly 20% said they have never had their cholesterol tested,have not had it tested in the last five years or are unsure if theyever have had a cholesterol test.

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The report found that four in10 women surveyed were "very surprised" or "somewhat surprised" tolearn that cholesterol levels naturally increase with age. Nearlyone-third of the women surveyed were very or somewhat surprised that aperson's cholesterol still could remain high despite regular exerciseand a healthy diet, the report found. In addition, more than half ofwomen ages 55 and older surveyed did not know or incorrectly believedthe optimal levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol, and about half did notknow that HDL is the "good" cholesterol and reduces the risk for heartdisease (CQ HealthBeat, 9/20).

Previous Survey, Reaction

A separate survey that SWHR released last month found that about 63% ofU.S. women are concerned about high cholesterol, but only 32% knowtheir cholesterol number (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/22). The American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Instituteand other health experts recommend that women and men ages 20 and olderhave their cholesterol checked at least once every five years. Anoptimal level of total cholesterol is less than 200, CQ HealthBeat reports.
"Highcholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and cholesterollevels naturally rise as you age, so it is important for aging women tomake sure their cholesterol score is in an acceptable range," JoParrish, vice president of communications for SWHR, said, adding, "Ahealthy diet and lifestyle throughout life reduces your risk of heartdisease, but as we get older and approach retirement age, it isimportant to more closely monitor our risk factors" (SWHR release, 9/20).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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