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QUICK FACTS on cholesterol/lipids

  • Raised blood cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Globally, one third of ischaemic heart disease is attributable to high cholesterol.
  • Overall, raised cholesterol is estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths (4.5 per cent of total) and 29.7 million DALYS*, or 2 per cent of total DALYS globally.
  • In 2008, the prevalence of raised total cholesterol among adults – defined as total cholesterol of 6.2 mmol/l (240 mg/dl) or higher – was 9.7 per cent (8.5 per cent for males and 10.7 per cent for females).1
  • Lowering raised blood cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • In 2008, the global prevalence of raised total cholesterol among adults was 39 per cent (37 per cent for males and 40 per cent for females).
  • The prevalence of raised total cholesterol noticeably increases according to the income level of the country.  In low-income countries, around 25 per cent of adults have raised total cholesterol, while in high-income countries, over 50 per cent of adults have raised total cholesterol.


* DALY- disability-adjusted life year is a measure of overall disease burden expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death


Reference: Global Atlas on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control. Mendis S, Puska P, Norrving B editors. World Health Organization (in collaboration with the World Heart Federation and World Stroke Organization), Geneva 2011.  


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