This post was sponsored by Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. Personal opinions and thoughts are my own.
When we look good and feel good, it’s easy to overlook dangerous health conditions because sometimes there are no symptoms! Having high cholesterol levels is a health condition that often has no visible symptoms. Children, young adults, and older people can have high cholesterol levels. More than 100 million U.S. adults have high cholesterol which can lead to heart disease, the leading cause of death in America. This is a very serious topic. The risk of having high cholesterol should not be dismissed because you enjoy a healthy diet and lifestyle. Genetics and other factors can lead to high cholesterol levels and ultimately heart disease. Fortunately, there are things you can do to effectively manage your high cholesterol, which include medications that are proven to manage the condition.
In my family, high cholesterol has been an issue for multiple generations despite healthy lifestyles! On my maternal side, my grandfather developed heart disease from unmanaged high cholesterol and underwent major bypass surgery. Within the past few years, both his sons (my closest uncles) have been surprised with a high cholesterol diagnosis. One was in the early stages of heart disease, experiencing angina, and underwent angioplasty. My other uncle had progressed to advanced heart disease and suffered a major heart attack last year. Doctors were shocked he survived the incident.
Both my uncles have made drastic changes to their already healthy lifestyles and have been prescribed a statin, a medication to help lower their cholesterol. If they stop their statin, they may be putting themselves at risk for heart disease and even heart attacks. My mother and her sister are screened regularly and now, I am too. Finding out your cholesterol levels is a quick and simple blood test that is a good idea to request with any physical exam. It is never too early to begin monitoring cholesterol levels.
The scariest thing about having high cholesterol is not knowing or understanding what can happen to you if it goes undetected or untreated – you can’t feel it! If more people were aware they had high cholesterol and took the necessary steps to protect themselves with lifestyle changes and medication, when necessary, then heart disease may not be the number one cause of death for Americans. People who have high cholesterol are often prescribed medication called a statin. What’s really concerning is that at least 50% of the people prescribed a statin stop taking the medication within the first year. Statins are proven to lower cholesterol and fight heart disease. Why people would stop taking medication that is saving their life is a major concern and an alarming situation. The good news is there are multiple statins available, and by talking to your doctors, it’s possible to switch to a different statin that can help you specifically.
A recent poll was conducted to learn more about why people were making the choice to discontinue taking a prescribed statin. More than 5,000 Americans aged 45 + with high cholesterol took Action: The Statin Survey* and there were some interesting findings:
• Only one third (33%) of people say their healthcare provider explained why that particular statin was being prescribed when they were first prescribed a statin
• Only 21% of patients say that their healthcare provider told them that there are different types of statins available when first prescribed a statin
• Roughly a quarter of patients (24%) currently taking a statin say they had challenges with the first statin they took
• Only 18% of people say they were told that their prescribed statin medicine could potentially interact with other medications and dietary supplements
I am proud to support a new educational campaign called Take Cholesterol to Heart to help people understand their treatment options for high cholesterol and motivate them to speak up if they are thinking about stopping their statin. Take Cholesterol to Heart provides great tools and strategies to help people “master the cholesterol conversation” with their doctor. There are multiple statin medicines, so it’s important to talk regularly with your doctor about your treatment plan, including a statin, that is right for you.
Regis Philbin, TV legend and heart disease survivor, joined Take Cholesterol to Heart to share his experience having a conversation with his doctor about high cholesterol and finding the right statin for him. Check out his story in this short video:
Please take the necessary steps to understand your cholesterol levels! Remember, this is a silent condition and too often people are unaware of the issue until they have a heart attack. When prescribed medication, taking it is an important part of effectively manage your condition.
If you or someone you love takes a statin, please visit TakeCholesterolToHeart.com for a number of helpful resources, including a doctor/patient discussion guide, a quiz on statins, and tips for caregivers.
This is knowledge that gives you the power to save your own life and the life of others. Education is key in managing health and disease!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation.
* Harris Poll conducted ACTION: The Statin Survey (Understanding Patient Adherence and Concerns with Statins, and Medication Discussions with Physicians) online on behalf of Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., within the United States from July 7- August 4, 2017, among 5,014 U.S. adults aged 45 or older, who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and have ever used a statin to treat high cholesterol. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Erin Bittner at W2O Group, 212-301-7226.