Going for a Cholesterol Test? Make it a Family Affair!


Kids & Meds

With the growing obesity epidemic occuring in children in the US many health care providers are recommending cholesterol screening in kids as young as 2.

Given the increase in childhood obesity and diabetes in the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends routine screening for heart disease in children between the ages of 2 and 10.

 

“The children who are most concerning are those who are already overweight or obese,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, a spokesperson for the AAP and Maddie’s pediatrician. She said other risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure and a family history of early heart disease. Health Minute: Watch more on kids and cholesterol

 

When a young patient fits the risk profile, Shu recommends testing blood cholesterol levels with a simple finger prick. If the results are normal, she suggests a follow-up test in three to five years.

 

But if the cholesterol reading is high, Shu refers the patient to a cardiologist and strongly suggests some immediate changes at home.

 

“Lifestyle is always first,” Shu said.

 

When Maddie tested positive for high cholesterol at age 7, Zacks made sure her daughter started a daily exercise regimen. She also took a close look at the family diet.

 

“We’re not perfect,” admitted Zacks. “I try to lead by example. I cook with healthier foods.”

 

When diet and exercise don’t seem to make much difference, some doctors may turn to cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. Based on clinical trials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a handful of statin medications for use in children.

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