Poll Indicates Confusion About Cholesterol Screening
The results of a telephone Gallup poll with1500 US adults in late 2003 discovered seriousmisconceptions about several common testsaimed at the early detection of disease. Forexample, there appears to be a serious "agegap" in cholesterol-screening awareness. Thepollsters reported that, although a majority ofadults over age 40 now get their blood cholesterollevels checked routinely, most under 40 donot—despite expert recommendations that allindividuals over age 20 get tested every 5 years.
Also, the survey found that 42% of men and29% of women under 40 believe that they neverneed to get tested. Michael S. Lauer, MD, aheart expert at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation,stressed that early screening can prevent problemslater in life. During adolescence, blood cholesterollevels are linked "to the development ofvascular disease in young and middle-agedadults," he said. "So the argument is made thatby knowing cholesterol levels at a young age,one can potentially change lifestyle habits thatmight be of benefit later on down the line."
When participants were polled about whetherphysicians are encouraging younger patients toget tested, 71% of the men under 40 and 67%of women under 40 replied "no." The result doesnot come as a surprise to Dr. Lauer. "From thepoint of view of many doctors, as well aspatients, they'd say, ?At this point in my life therisk is very low, so is it really critical that we haveto check this right now?'"