Poll: Women Clueless On Their Cholesterol

Most women are seriously lacking when it comes to knowing their cholesterol numbers, according to a new survey.

Researchers found that twice as many women knew how much they weighed in high school than knew their current cholesterol level — despite the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 killer among women.

"Clearly, strides have been made in educating women on the risks of high cholesterol, but the disconnect between awareness and action needs to be addressed," says researcher Phyllis Greenberger, president and CEO of the Society for Women's Health Research, which sponsored the survey, in a news release. "Knowing your cholesterol number is the first step in controlling cholesterol. That number is certainly more important than what you weighed in high school."

The survey showed nearly nine out of 10 women recognize that cholesterol can cause the development of plaque in the arteries. Yet less than a third of women knew their own cholesterol numbers.

Cholesterol Levels: Knowledge Gap

The random survey, which included more than 500 women, showed that most women know about the importance of diet and exercise in maintaining healthy
cholesterol levels.

But when it comes to knowing their cholesterol levels or actively managing
their own cholesterol-related health risks, there's a big gap in knowledge. For example:

  • Only about a third of women knew any of the four key numbers for monitoring cholesterol: total cholesterol level, LDL level, HDL level, and triglyceride (blood fat) level.

  • More than a third of women reported being very surprised or somewhat
    surprised to learn that high cholesterol has no symptoms.

  • Sixty percent of women said they are somewhat or very actively trying to manage their cholesterol levels.

  • A third of women were very surprised or somewhat surprised to learn that women can exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet but still have dangerously high cholesterol levels.

In contrast, 79 percent of the women surveyed could remember what they weighed in high school, which researchers say is much less likely to play a serious role in heart disease risk than high cholesterol levels.

The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3%.

By Jennifer Warner
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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