February is American Heart Month there is something you may not be aware of in regards to your child’s heart health.
It’s no joke that childhood obesity rates are on the rise. And when obesity rises, so does cholesterol. Cholesterol is a soft fat like substance that is necessary in building new cells and producing hormones. Cholesterol is necessary for our bodies to maintain and carry out normal bodily functions, however too much can do the opposite for a body. Too much cholesterol can increase the risk of coronary artery heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and hardening of the arteries.
And now high cholesterol levels are starting to be seen in kids. However, it’s not just obese children that doctors are seeing high cholesterol levels in, but children with parents and relatives that have abnormal cholesterol levels.
In the February 2011 issue of Parents magazine, Dr. William Neal, MD; chair of pediatric cardiology at West Virgina University conducted a study of 20,000 fifth graders and found that many of them had high cholesterol. And many of these children did not have a family history of premature heart disease or elevated total cholesterol or triglycerides.
Current guidelines state that screening for children should be based on a family history of high cholesterol in parents. However, many parents may not know the history of their own parents or grandparents.
Cholesterol testing is simple and easy. Often it is just a simple blood test or finger prick. There are home cholesterol tests available, however it is noted that these types of tests may not be as accurate as lab performed tests.
If you feel that your child may be at risk for cholesterol, talk with your health care provider and see if a cholesterol test might be right for your child.
Those children at risk include those who are obese, have diabetes, a family history of heart disease, or a family with an active smoker in the house. Discuss with your doctor these risk factors and see if a cholesterol test might be necessary.
In most cases for children, an abnormal cholesterol test can mean simple changes to diet or lifestyle. Increased exercise, or including heart healthy foods in their diet may be prescribed.
Cholesterol: The Test http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/cholesterol/test.html
Cholesterol Problems: http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/understanding-cholesterol-problems-basics
Children and Cholesterol: http://cholesterol.about.com/od/aboutcholesterol/qt/childprevent.htm