Global failure over cholesterol

Most people around the globe with
high cholesterol are not getting the treatment they need, claims the largest
ever study of 147 million people.

High levels of the blood fat are
linked with cardiovascular disease, the world’s biggest killer, which takes 17
million lives a year.

The report in the Bulletin of the
World Health Organization says too few people are put on cholesterol-lowering

The data, spanning a decade, is
from England, Scotland and six more nations.

Between 1998 and 2007 information
on cholesterol levels and prescribing patterns were gathered for England,
Germany, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Scotland, Thailand and the US.

The analysis found many at-risk
people in middle-income and western countries alike are not on cheap and widely
available statin drugs that would substantially cut their risk of heart attack
and stroke.

The report
authors, which included Dr Gregory Roth from the Institute for Health Metrics
and Evaluation in the US, say: “These findings support the growing
recognition that cardiovascular diseases are not merely ‘diseases of affluence’
and that some middle-income countries are beginning to face a double burden of
both chronic and communicable diseases.”

For example, in Thailand 78 per
cent of adults surveyed, who were found to have high cholesterol, had not been
diagnosed, while in Japan, 53 per cent of adults were diagnosed but remained

Although England fared slightly
better, in 2006, when its snap-shot was undertaken, over two-thirds of people
remained undiagnosed and around a fifth were diagnosed but untreated.

Mexico did the best,
diagnosing and treating nearly 60 per cent of cases.