High cholesterol itself is not a disease, but it can lead to disease. Every 40 seconds, an American adult dies from a heart attack, stroke, or related vascular disease, which equates to nearly 800,000 deaths per year. For those who do survive a heart attack or stroke, many are faced with serious illness, disability, and decreased quality of life. Despite being largely preventable, high cholesterol is a main risk factor for heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two in three Americans with high cholesterol do not have it under control, putting them at twice the risk for heart disease, and 44% of the population is expected to have some form of cardiovascular disease by 2030. If this becomes a reality, a projected $818 billion will be spent on direct care, and an estimated $276 billion will be lost in productivity.
Fortunately for patients, the death rate from cardiovascular disease has dropped 31% in the last decade, thanks in large part to innovative medicines and treatment options. In fact, in 2007, the average cholesterol level for U.S. adults was within the ideal range for the first time in 50 years. This drop is attributed to the increased use of cholesterol-lowering medicine by those over 60. Adherence to treatment regimens not only helps improve the well-being of individuals living with high cholesterol, it also reduces spending on other health care costs – including prescriptions and other non-pharmacy medical costs.
Despite the progress made, there remains a significant unmet medical need as some patients are unable to sufficiently control their cholesterol levels. Continued innovation and lifestyle changes are critical to reducing the societal impact of heart disease, and to helping patients live longer, healthier lives.