New Report Details Hurdles Faced by People with Cardiovascular Disease

Survey data from the Take Health to Heart initiative finds barriers across the patient experience, from screening and access to care to treatment


Take Health to Heart, an education and advocacy initiative led by the Foundation of the National Lipid Association (FNLA) and the National Medical Association (NMA), today released a new report featuring data from a comprehensive survey that aimed to better understand the experiences of people living with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). The survey, conducted by the Health Analytics & Insights Group, included 5,670 individuals – 897 of whom reported having ASCVD, the most common and deadliest form of heart disease, caused by the build-up of bad cholesterol in the blood.

Despite the progress our nation has made in combating heart disease, it remains the leading killer of Americans. Heartfelt Hurdles: The Cardiovascular Disease Patient Experience found that the path for people with ASCVD remains challenging, with barriers to overcome throughout their journey – from screening and diagnosis to access to care and treatment – that impede the management of heart disease. These hurdles disproportionately affect vulnerable populations like women, people of color, and lower-income individuals – exacerbating the disparate burden of the disease and the disproportionate impact of social determinants of health.

Among the report’s notable findings:

  • Low reported screening among women, people of color, and individuals with established ASCVD risk factors may impede diagnosis of the condition. More than half of women surveyed had never discussed cardiovascular risk factors with their clinicians, and people of color were significantly more likely than White respondents to report never having had their cholesterol measured. Additionally, many individuals with established risk factors like diabetes, smoking, and family history of heart disease – especially women and people of color – also reported not having taken those key steps to assess their risk.
  • Barriers to accessing care also hindered ASCVD diagnosis and treatment, especially for respondents in these vulnerable populations. Cost was reported as a major barrier to care, especially for people of color; half of respondents with ASCVD reported having trouble paying medical bills in the past year, as did two-thirds of respondents of color with ASCVD. Additionally, women and people of color reported higher rates of misdiagnosis and/or dissatisfaction with their ASCVD treatment.
  • Insurance hurdles restricted access to the medicines prescribed to individuals with ASCVD to manage their disease. 92% of respondents with ASCVD who had insurance and a prescription still reported experiencing access barriers like prior authorization, step therapy, and outright denial of their prescribed medicine in just the past three months. Prior authorization alone impacted nearly one-third of respondents with ASCVD in that same timeframe.
  • 95% of respondents with ASCVD who encountered these barriers reported having trouble taking their medicines as prescribed, including skipping doses, not picking up or delaying taking medicine, and cutting pills in half. Nearly half of these respondents reported negative health impacts as a result, as did more than three-quarters of those who experienced multiple treatment access barriers.

Click here to access the full report.

Survey Methodology

Take Health to Heart commissioned the Health Analytics & Insights Group to conduct a comprehensive survey to better understand the experiences of people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). In total, 5,670 individuals were surveyed, of whom 897 reported having ASCVD. Data were weighted to adjust for Census population parameters and be representative of the U.S. population in terms of age, gender, region, race, and ethnicity. Throughout the report, “people of color” refers to all individuals who self-reported their race as Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian, and Other.

About Take Health to Heart

Take Health to Heart is an education and advocacy initiative of the Foundation of the National Lipid Association and the National Medical Association. Take Health to Heart is made possible through a sponsorship from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Learn more at