Why Health Services Research is important, part gazillion

From the CDC**:

More than a third of American adults are eligible to take cholesterol-lowering medications under the current guidelines or were already taking them – but nearly half of them are not, according to a report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers published in the current issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Blacks and Mexican Americans are less likely than whites to be taking cholesterol-lowering medications.

Data from 2007 through 2014 show a decline in the number of Americans with high blood levels of cholesterol. There also has been a recent increase in the use of cholesterol-lowering medications. But a high blood level of LDL cholesterol – also known as “bad” cholesterol – remains a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke in the United States.

Now, we can quibble about whether all of these people really should be on these meds, but it’s hard to imagine that the third of people who aren’t are making some super-informed choice. Especially since there are the usual gender disparities:

Gender, race, and ethnicity made a difference. Of:

  • 40.8 percent of men eligible for or already on medication, 52.9 percent were taking medications.
  • 32.9 percent of women eligible for or already on medication, 58.6 percent were taking medications.
  • 24.2 percent of Mexican-Americans eligible for or already on medication, 47.1 percent were taking medications.
  • 39.5 percent of blacks eligible for or already on medication, 46 percent were taking medications.
  • 38.4 percent of whites eligible for or already on medication, 58 percent were taking medications.

Blacks who did not have a routine place for health care had the lowest rate (5.7 percent) of taking recommended cholesterol-lowering medication. People who said they already had adopted a heart-healthy lifestyle (about 80 percent) were the group most likely to be taking cholesterol-lowering medication.

How do you fix stuff like this? Health Services Research. Instead, we keep seeing calls to gut AHRQ. Sigh.


** It galls me that even in a CDC media release, they can’t be bothered to link to the actual MMWR article. What is wrong with the media?

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