From fixing leaking roofs to repainting peeling walls, many people take on renovation jobs themselves to enhance their homes. But when it comes to enhancing their health, many Americans simply aren’t tackling the job.
Nearly 38 million Americans have high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol – a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke -but a new national survey shows that many people don’t have the right “know-how” to best manage their cholesterol and lower their LDL levels.
To raise awareness about the dangers of high cholesterol and the importance of setting a specific, target goal number, WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and the Association of Black Cardiologists Inc. have joined together with AstraZeneca to launch the GOAL Standard, a new nationwide consumer education campaign.
Paul DiMeo, designer and carpenter from ABC’s hit show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” has joined the GOAL Standard team to help empower and motivate people – including those already being treated with cholesterol-lowering statin medications – to be “heart handy” and work with their health care providers to identify a target cholesterol goal, and make a plan to successfully reach and maintain that goal.
“A cholesterol-lowering program is a lot like a home makeover project; you have to determine a goal, draw up blueprints to reach that goal and work according to plan, tracking your progress along the way,” says DiMeo, who embarked on his own health makeover after being diagnosed with high cholesterol. “My doctor and I made sure I had all the tools I needed to reach my target goal -; and now I’ve made a lifelong commitment to maintain it.”
When treating patients with elevated cholesterol, doctors often consult target LDL number guidelines identified by The National Cholesterol Education Program. Yet a new survey shows that the majority (60 percent) of U.S. adults who are being treated with cholesterol-lowering statin medications do not know their target cholesterol goal. Further, 69 percent of these same statin users who are discussing cholesterol goals with their health care provider and do not know their cholesterol goal, are not communicating with their doctor about ways to lower their cholesterol and 31 percent are not talking with their doctor about ways to maintain their cholesterol goal.
Two out of five adults (40 percent) – and approximately two out of five patients using statin medications (38 percent) – say they wish their health care professionals would spend more time discussing cholesterol with them.
“The survey suggests that patients are confused about how to best manage this potentially deadly condition, and need to talk openly with their doctors about treatment options and target goals,” says Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and member of WomenHeart’s Scientific Advisory Board. “It is critical that all patients with high cholesterol, including those using statin medications, also follow personalized plans focused on healthy living to lower their LDL and reach their goal.”