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One in Six Americans Have Never Had Their Cholesterol Checked

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: September 27, 2007

Despite the much publicized link between cholesterol and heart disease, one in six Americans ages 20 years and older—nearly 36 million people—have never had their cholesterol levels checked, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

According to AHRQ, the following people have never had their blood cholesterol checked:

  • More than one-third of uninsured people between 20 and 64 years of age, 22 percent with public insurance, and 16 percent of people with private health insurance.
  • One fourth of Hispanic adults, 16 percent each of Black and Asian adults, and 15 percent of White adults.
  • Twenty percent of males and 14 percent of females.
  • Approximately 21 percent of people who did not graduate from high school.
  • Nearly 40 percent of people between 20 and 34 years of age, 17 percent between 35 and 44 years of age, six percent between 45 and 64 years of age, and 2 percent of people age 65 and older.

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a highly detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. MEPS is a unique government survey because of the degree of detail in its data, as well as its ability to link data on health services spending and health insurance to demographic, employment, economic, health status, and other characteristics of individuals and families.

More information on this topic is available in MEPS Statistical Brief No. 187: Cholesterol Screening among the U.S. Noninstitutionalized Adult Population Age 20 and Older, 2005 (PDF Help).

To speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of September 2007.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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