Screen All Children for Dangerously High Cholesterol, Study Says
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Your child already could be working on his or her first heart attack.
The Los Angeles Times reports high cholesterol is not uncommon among children nowadays, in a society that leans heavily toward cheeseburgers and deep-fat fried chicken nuggets. Given other factors -- including family history and high blood pressure -- kids could be looking at heart attacks sooner, rather than later.
A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests parents help diffuse these walking time bombs by getting children screened for dangerously high cholesterol levels. If a child is overweight and has other risk factors, academy researchers tell the Times, testing should begin after age 2 and before age 10.
According to the Times, researchers reviewed data on more than 20,000 fifth-grade children in West Virginia. They also examined the children's family histories and conducted blood cholesterol tests.
They found that more than 71 percent of the children met guidelines for cholesterol screening based on family history, the Times reports. Among the children whose family history was unknown, 9.5 percent had high cholesterol -- with 1.7 percent of those children requiring meds to treat the condition.
Researchers add that too many families don't have accurate information on their history of high cholesterol and heart attacks.
Researchers tell the Times screening all children for dangerously high cholesterol levels, rather than just those with a family history, will enable doctors to treat the condition early and possibly prevent heart diseases later on.
"The added and undeniable benefit of identifying and screening parents and other first-degree relatives as a result to finding elevated LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in their children could lead to the prevention of premature cardiac events in adults that may have otherwise gone undiagnosed," researchers write in the study released July 11.
Related: How to Prevent Heart Disease in Kids