Patients are confused about cholesterol

Pharmaceutical Representative

Patients do not understand basic information about cholesterol and other lipid risk factors, according to two new surveys sponsored by Miami-based Kos Pharmaceuticals and conducted by Yankelovich Partners Inc.

Patients do not understand basic information about cholesterol and other lipid risk factors, according to two new surveys sponsored by Miami-based Kos Pharmaceuticals and conducted by Yankelovich Partners Inc.

Experts presented the results at a Dyslipidemia Roundtable sponsored by the Citizens for Public Action on Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Inc. in New York in September.

Understanding and maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and other lipids, such as low-density lipoproteins, high-density lipoproteins and triglycerides, is critical to reducing a patient's risk of coronary heart disease.

But nearly half of surveyed patients with high cholesterol said that their physicians had never discussed with them all of the lipids that factor into total lipid management. And more than half could not identify which lipoprotein was good and which was bad.

Physicians, meanwhile, appear to be in the dark about their patients' lack of knowledge. More than half of surveyed physicians said that their patients are informed about the components that comprise the total lipid profile.

Although a majority of physicians said they spend at least some time discussing good lipoprotein (HDL) and triglyceride levels with their patients, only 6% of high-cholesterol patients said their doctors had discussed achieving ideal targets for HDL levels. Only 5% had been told what their ideal triglyceride levels were.

"As we continue to learn more about HDL, triglycerides and Lp(a) [an emerging risk factor], it is abundantly clear that measurement of total cholesterol is no longer enough to determine heart disease risk," said Antonio Gotti, M.D., Ph.D., a dean and a professor at Cornell University. "Awareness of low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein and triglyceride levels is critical in assessing appropriate therapeutic options. What works for one individual will not necessarily work for another." PR