Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Kudos on cholesterol?

Heart Beat

Kudos on cholesterol?

Congratulations (kind of), America! For the first time since records have been kept on this subject, the total cholesterol of the average American dropped below 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). The average in 1960 was 222 mg/dL; today it is 199. That's just into the "desirable" range. Before having a hamburger to celebrate, keep in mind that this trend doesn't necessarily mean Americans are healthier than they were in the 1950s. It's more a testament to the power of cholesterol-lowering statins and the fact that millions of adults are taking these drugs.

The report detailing this trend, put together by the National Center for Health Statistics, shows an alarming pattern seen in other surveys: more than 20% of women over age 60 have high total cholesterol (above 240 mg/dL), compared with 10% of men in that age range.

If you haven't had your cholesterol measured in the last year or so, it's worth having it checked.

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