Total, LDL Cholesterol Levels Decreasing in the United States

HealthDay News — Healthier diets may be a factor in the ongoing decline in cholesterol levels for Americans, according to a research letter published in JAMA Cardiology.

The study included data from 39,049 adults who had their total cholesterol levels checked, 17,096 who had undergone LDL cholesterol level testing, and 17,486 who had their triglyceride levels tracked as part of the ongoing US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Average total cholesterol fell from 204 mg/dL of blood in 1999-2000 to 189 mg/dL in 2013-2014. Between the relatively short span of 2011-2012 to 2013-2014, average total cholesterol levels plummeted by 6 mg/dL, the authors noted. 

Average triglyceride levels also decreased—from 123 mg/dL in 1999-2000 to 97 mg/dL in 2013-2014, with a 13 mg/dL drop since 2011-2012. Average LDL cholesterol levels fell from 126 mg/dL to 111 mg/dL during the study period, with a 4 mg/dL drop between 2011-2012 and 2013-2014.

“Removal of trans-fatty acids in foods has been suggested as an explanation for the observed trends of triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol levels, and total cholesterol levels,” the researchers wrote. These trends “may be contributing to declining death rates owing to coronary heart disease since 1999.”

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  1. Rosinger A, Carroll MD, Lacher D. Trends in Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, and Low-Density Lipoprotein in US Adults, 1999-2014. JAMA Cardiol. 2016 Nov 30. doi:doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2016.4396 [Epub ahead of print].