University of Göttingen: Less than one-third of high cholesterol patients in low- and middle-income countries treated

International research team led by Göttingen University finds inadequate care

Healthcare in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is poorly prepared for the increasing number of individuals with high cholesterol (i.e. hypercholesterolemia). A study on 35 LMICs shows that more than two-thirds of all people affected go without treatment. This was discovered by an international research team led by the University of Göttingen. The study appeared in PLoS Medicine.

An international research team pooled data from 129,040 respondents aged 15 years and above, from 35 nationally representative surveys conducted between 2009 and 2018. The research team then analysed how well health systems meet the care needs of individuals with high cholesterol. First, the researchers determined how many people suffer from high cholesterol. Based on this, they determined how many of these people were screened, diagnosed, treated, and, finally, achieved controlled cholesterol levels.

Less than half of those affected were previously screened for hypercholesterolemia. Only about one third were aware of their high cholesterol and have received medication or lifestyle for it, leaving a large majority without controlled cholesterol levels. Upper-middle income countries as well as the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Europe tend to achieve higher care levels. Relatively high performing countries included Sri Lanka and Iran, which may hold important policy lessons for improving hypercholesterolemia care elsewhere.

“High cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death globally,” says Maja Marcus, PhD student at the University of Göttingen and first author of the study. “Better care is becoming more affordable with cheaper testing technology, off-patent medication, and free lifestyle advice. More needs to be done to make use of this potential to prevent morbidity and deaths.”

Comments are closed.