Around half of people who need cholesterol-lowering drugs do not take them, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

In its report on Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the CDC found that 44.5 percent of American adults whose health will benefit from drugs that can lower cholesterol levels are non-complaint in terms of taking their medicines.

High cholesterol levels may predispose a person to cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. Taking medicines to lower down these levels, generally with a low-cost statin, could ward off the risk of potentially-fatal cardiovascular complications.

According to data gathered between 2007 and 2014, there was a decline in Americans who have increased cholesterol levels in the body. However, increased risk of low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol is still a key risk factor in developing heart disease.

"Nearly 800,000 people die in the U.S. each year from cardiovascular diseases - that's one in every three deaths - and high cholesterol continues to be a major risk factor," said Dr. Carla Mercado from the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in CDC.

She added that the study paves way to fill in existing gaps in the implementation of "patient education and cholesterol management program".

Based on the data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between the period of 2005 and 2012, the CDC report revealed that around 36.7 percent of adults in the United States (78.1 million) are candidates for taking medicines that can lower cholesterol levels.

In the group, 55.5 percent are currently taking the medication prescribed while 46.6 percent said they are modifying their lifestyle and 37.1 percent said they are making changes in their lifestyle and taking the medication. However, 35.5 percent said they are not doing either of the two.

The researchers found that according to race, Blacks and Mexican Americans are less likely than whites in maintaining the intake of medications for cholesterol levels. Furthermore, women are more compliant in taking medications than men with 58.6 percent and 52.9 percent, respectively.

The study included all forms of medications that lower cholesterol levels with nearly 90 percent taking one of the most common drugs for cholesterol levels, statins.

Photo: Juhan Sonin | Flickr

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