Cholesterol Screening for Women: Who Is “At-Risk”?
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Cholesterol Screening for Women: Who Is “At-Risk”?

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  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      J Womens Health (Larchmt)
    • Description:

      High cholesterol often precedes cardiovascular disease (CVD) and guidelines recommend cholesterol screening among at-risk women. Definitions of CVD risk vary and prevalence of dyslipidemia (abnormal total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C), or non-HDL-C) among at-risk women may vary by age and definition of CVD risk.


      This study used 2007–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data (n=1,781), a representative sample of the U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized population, to estimate the proportion of women without previous dyslipidemia diagnosis who are U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) at-risk and American Heart Association (AHA) at-risk. We also report dyslipidemia prevalence stratified by age.


      Over half (55.0%) of younger women (20–44 years) and 74.2% of older women (≥45 years) were USPSTF at-risk, while nearly all younger and older women had at least one AHA risk factor (99.5% and 99.6%, respectively). Dyslipidemia prevalence among younger women was 47.3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 42.2– 52.5) for USPSTF-at-risk and 39.5% (95% CI: 35.7–43.4) for AHA at-risk. Among older women, it was 65.5% (95% CI: 60.8–69.9) for USPSTF at-risk and 63.3% (95% CI: 59.0–67.4) for AHA at-risk.


      The AHA risk definition identified 45% more young women and 25% more older women than the USPSTF risk definition; however, both definitions of at-risk identified similar prevalence estimates of dyslipidemia among women. Given a high prevalence of dyslipidemia among younger women, future research is needed to assess whether identification and treatment of young women with dyslipidemia will decrease CVD mortality among them later in life.

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