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Childhood Obesity Rates Spark New Cholesterol Testing Guidelines

Childhood obesityOnce again emphasizing that cardiac events are not limited to any particular demographic, a new report suggests that children as young as nine should receive cholesterol screening to reduce the risk of heart disease or heart attack.

Most people don’t traditionally worry about getting their cholesterol checked until well into their adult life or until other health concerns prompt a cardiologist to complete the screening. However, the buildup of fat in the blood that wreaks havoc for middle-aged and older people may actually start at a very early age.

A new report from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute with the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated guidelines to suggest cholesterol screening for younger patients. The new recommendations aim to test children at ages 9-11 and again as young adults at ages 17-21 for abnormal cholesterol levels as a proactive measure.

Various studies in recent years have suggested that traditional screening methods for adolescent cholesterol problems miss between 30-60% of children who are at risk. By widening the scope of juvenile testing, doctors will be better able to reach all children who may be developing early signs of heart disease.

A cholesterol test is a simple procedure, performed by a cardiologist or family doctor, in which a small amount of blood is drawn and analyzed. A normal cholesterol rate for adults is less than 200 milligrams per tenth of a liter of blood. In children, however, a normal rate should be less than 175.

With juvenile obesity rates on the rise nationwide, high cholesterol in children is a rapidly escalating concern. Even though a vast majority of children with abnormal cholesterol rates may not experience any symptoms of the condition, identifying high cholesterol early on can provide a much more optimistic outlook for future health.

Through poor diet, lack of exercise or a genetic disposition, children may begin forming fatty deposits in their arteries. If such buildups are diagnosed, early treatment has the potential to reverse damage to arteries. However, if left untreated these fatty deposits can decrease blood flow and place extra stress on blood vessels, causing irreversible harm.

If you or your child is diagnosed with high cholesterol, taking early action can be key in reversing damage and preventing future health problems. To treat high cholesterol:

  • Talk to your doctor about beginning a daily exercise regimen to maintain a healthy weight
  • Consult with a nutritionist to design a diet low in saturated fat and nigh in nutrients
  • If cholesterol levels do not respond to diet and exercise, talk to a cardiologist about medication

To schedule an appointment or learn more about cholesterol screening, contact our office today.

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