Treatment patterns and distribution of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in treatment-eligible United States adults
To estimate the fraction of United States (U.S.) adults who are eligible for treatment to reduce elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels based on Adult Treatment Panel II (ATP II) guidelines and the percent reduction in LDL cholesterol required by those who qualify for treatment, we analyzed data on 7,423 respondents to Phase 2 of the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) administered between 1991 and 1994. Approximately 28% of the U.S. adult population aged > or = 20 years is eligible for treatment based on ATP II guidelines. Eighty-two percent of adults with coronary heart disease are not at their target LDL cholesterol level of 100 mg/dl. Of those eligible for treatment, 65% report that they receive no treatment. Overall, 40% of people who qualify for drug therapy require an LDL cholesterol reduction of > 30% to meet their ATP II treatment goal. Approximately 75% of those with coronary heart disease who qualify for drug therapy require an LDL cholesterol reduction of >30%. Although elevated LDL cholesterol levels can be treated, prevalence rates in the U.S. adult population remain high. Several recent studies indicate that a considerable percentage of people treated with drug therapy do not reach their treatment goals. The findings in this study provide at least a partial explanation for why many patients receiving therapy do not reach their treatment goals: they require a larger reduction in LDL cholesterol than many therapies can provide.