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CDC Says Few States Meet National Cholesterol Screening Goals

Kate Traynor

On the eve of National Cholesterol Education Month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that few states reached the Healthy People 2000 cholesterol screening goal of testing 75 percent of adults over age 19. Fewer still are on target for the 2010 goal.

The Aug. 25 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) found that in 1999, the District of Columbia achieved the highest screening rate in the nation—80 percent of adults over age 19 had their cholesterol checked at least once in the preceding five years. In the rest of the country, only Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Rhode Island reached the Healthy People 2000 screening goal of testing 75 percent of target adults. The lowest five-year cholesterol testing rate—60 percent and declining—was reported for Minnesota. 

If this trend continues, CDC predicted, 45 states will fail to reach the new Healthy People 2010 goal: 80 percent of adults over age 19 screened during the preceding five years. 

Self-reported cholesterol screening was determined using the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) telephone survey. CDC used BRFSS data from a total of 563,742 respondents 20 years of age and older in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999 for the study. 

According to an editorial note in MMWR, projections from BRFSS data collected in 1988-1991 indicated that 31 states and the district would exceed the 2000 cholesterol-screening objective. During that time, reported CDC, screening rates increased in the district and all 47 states participating in BRFSS. However, CDC's new study showed that screening rates since 1991 were lower than expected, and actually declined between then and 1999 in seven states. 

CDC said that increased emphasis on the importance of cholesterol screening will be needed for states to reach the 80 percent testing goal in 2010. 

To promote cholesterol screening, the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) has designated September National Cholesterol Education Month. NCEP, which is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, has put together an educational kit containing information for health care professionals and the public. 

Although the success of National Cholesterol Education Month cannot be measured until after September, NCEP coordinator James I. Cleeman, M.D., said that so far, "the interest level seems quite high." Traffic at the NCEP Web site is heavy and NHLBI distributed 1500 kits by the end of August, added Cleeman. An online version of the kit is available.