Background: Dyslipidemia, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), is more prevalent in middle-aged women than in men of the same age in Korea. This study, the first national survey that focused on cholesterol in Korean women, aimed to: (1) assess their awareness and knowledge of cholesterol, (2) evaluate their risk reduction behavior, and (3) examine differences in these variables among geographical regions in Korea. Methods: A questionnaire survey study was conducted in a randomly selected national sample of 1304 Korean women, aged 40-64 years in 3 geographic regions. Results: High cholesterol was identified as a cause of CVD by 54.4% of respondents, however, 95.4% did not know their own values. Only 4.1% of respondents were aware of desirable level of total cholesterol. Eight percent of respondents perceived correctly the meaning of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) as good cholesterol. And 32.9% had cholesterol check at least once a year. No significant regional differences were found in women's awareness and knowledge on cholesterol. No smoking (93.6%), low salt diet (52.5%) and weight management (50.6%) were the most prevalent risk reduction behaviors. Women in the rural area performed less risk reduction behaviors than those in urban area. Conclusions: Given the low level of awareness and knowledge about cholesterol in these women, nurses need to increase their education about cholesterol and risk reduction behaviors of CVD for middle-aged Korean women, particularly those in rural area. To resolve identified disparities in women's risk reduction behaviors between the rural and urban area, a national-level health policy can result in a successful effort to promote women's awareness of cholesterol and risk reduction behaviors for the cardiovascular health of the public.
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