Cholesterol screening rates low among young adults

Although an estimated 55 percent of young adults have at least one risk factor for coronary heart disease, less than one-half have been screened for high cholesterol, according to a study released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly referred to as "bad" cholesterol, is a common risk factor for coronary heart disease. Based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the study found 26 percent of young adults with at least two additional risk factors for coronary heart disease -- such as high blood pressure, smoking, family history or obesity -- also had elevated LDL-C levels. Elevated LDL-C levels were found in 12 percent of people with at least one additional risk factor and 7 percent of those with no other risk factors. Young adults were classified as men 20-35 years old and women 20-45.

The study, "Prevalence of Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors and Screening for High Cholesterol Levels Among Young Adults, United States, 1999-2006," was published in the July/August issue of Annals of Family Medicine.

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