Economic, Health Indices Linked to Elevated Cholesterol

Country-specific indices impact global variation in cholesterol for those with history of hyperlipidemia

MONDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with a history of hyperlipidemia, country-level economic and health system indices impact global-level variation in elevated cholesterol, according to a study published online April 9 in Circulation.

To investigate the relationship between country-level economic and health system factors and elevated cholesterol, Lakshmi Venkitachalam, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, and associates analyzed data from 53,570 outpatients from 36 countries. Country-level economic and health system factors were assessed.

The researchers found that 38 percent of outpatients had baseline cholesterol greater than 200 mg/dL. Of the total variability in elevated cholesterol, 9.3 percent was at the country level, with the proportion higher for those with than without a history of hyperlipidemia (12.1 versus 7.4 percent). For patients with a history of hyperlipidemia, the odds of elevated cholesterol were significantly lower in those countries in the highest tertile of gross national income or World Health Organization Health System Achievement versus the lowest tertile. The odds of having high cholesterol were increased in those countries in the highest versus the lowest tertile of out-of-pocket expenses. There were no significant associations for patients without a history of hyperlipidemia.

"Global variations in the prevalence of elevated cholesterol among patients with history of hyperlipidemia are associated with country-level economic development and health system indices," the authors write. "These results support the need for strengthening efforts toward effective cardiovascular disease prevention and control and may provide insight for health policy setting at the national level."

Several of the authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical, medical device, and health care industries.

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