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Reduce the impact of heart disease

% of adults with a cholesterol check in past 5 years

Current Value




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Story Behind the Curve

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made by the liver or found in certain foods. Your liver makes enough for your body’s needs, but we often get more cholesterol from the foods we eat. If we take in more cholesterol than the body can use, the extra cholesterol can build up in the walls of the arteries, including those of the heart. This leads to narrowing of the arteries and can decrease the blood flow to the heart, brain, kidneys, and other parts of the body. This can be a risk factor associated with Cardiovascular Disease.

Some cholesterol is “good,” and some is “bad.” High cholesterol is the term used for high levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, which are considered “bad” because they can lead to heart disease. A higher level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, is considered “good” because it provides some protection against heart disease.

A blood test can detect the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides (a related kind of fat) in your blood so that your provider can assess the types and levels of cholesterol and determine if your measures are within a healthy range.

As of 2017, 83% of adult Vermonters have had a cholesterol check in the past 5 years, inching closer to the Healthy Vermonters target of 85%. This measure has been stable for the past 10 years until this most recent increase.

Why Is This Important?

This indicator is part of Healthy Vermonters 2020 (the State Health Assessment) that documents the health status of Vermonters at the start of the decade and the population health indicators and goals that will guide the work of public health through 2020. Click here for more information.

What Works

The following evidence-based strategies have been shown by the CDC to measurably impact population-level high levels of cholesterol. By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your cholesterol in a healthy range and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. A healthy lifestyle includes:

Healthy Diet: Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk for high cholesterol.

Physical Activity: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

No Smoking: Cigarette smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease

Limited Alcohol: Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can raise your cholesterol.


At the Vermont Department of Health, staff in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention use CDC funds to collaborate with clinical partners in primary and community partners to offer evidence-based programs to prevent and control cardiovascular disease risk factors. Examples of current or recent activities include the following:

· You First helps eligible women get heart health screenings and provide nutrition counseling and evidence based Lifestyle Programs to help women lose weight.

· Community Health Teams across the state provide nutrition counseling and risk reduction counseling and access to physical exercise.

Notes on Methodology

Data is updated as it becomes available and timing may vary by data source. For more information about this indicator, click here.

This indicator is age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population. In U.S. data, age adjustment is used for comparison of regions with varying age breakdowns. In order to remain consistent with the methods of comparison at a national level, some statistics in Vermont were age adjusted. In cases where age adjustment was noted as being part of the statistical analysis, the estimates were adjusted based on the proportional age breakdowns of the U.S. population in 2000. For more detailed information on age adjustment visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics.

Due to BRFSS weighting methodology changes beginning in 2011, comparisons between data collected in 2011 and later and that from 2010 and earlier should be made with caution. Differences between data from 2011 forward and earlier years may be due to methodological changes, rather than changes in opinion or behavior.

Clear Impact Suite is an easy-to-use, web-based software platform that helps your staff collaborate with external stakeholders and community partners by utilizing the combination of data collection, performance reporting, and program planning.

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