Recent studies revealed an association between economy, health care and the levels of cholesterol among people in the particular economy. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

According to Elizabeth Magnuson, ScD, of Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and colleagues, patients with a history of hyperlipedemia and those who were living in countries with limited health care facilities or poor performing health care systems were more likely to have elevated cholesterol levels. These findings prioritize the need for countries to stabilize, improve and establish effective watch-out for chronic disease risk factors such as cholesterol levels along with improvement of population-based efforts aimed at the prevention and management of chronic diseases. 

A statistic from REACH (Reduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health registry) was obtained by Magnuson and colleagues. This includes 53,570 outpatients ages 45 and older from 36 countries, who were at the risk of developing atherothrombosis either due to risk factors or established diseases. From the statistics, 38 percent had elevated total cholesterol, defined as 200 mg/dL or higher. The prevalence ranged from 24 percent in Finland to 73 percent in Bulgaria. About 9.3 percent of variability could be explained by country level factors. This figure was higher in 80 percent of the patients with a history of hyperlipidemia than those who didn’t have a history of hyperlipidemia.

Countries which have high gross national income or meet the standards set by World Health Organization had lower chance of developing cholesterol than countries with lower gross national income.

The researchers noted that the control of cholesterol could be related to different guidelines set by different countries and also the use of specific initiatives aimed at controlling cardiovascular risk factors.

The authors acknowledged some limitations of the analysis, including the inability to draw conclusions about causality from an observational registry, the inclusion of participants who had access to healthcare only, the use of medical records to get information on the use of lipid-lowering therapy which put hurdles on the track of research.