High Cholesterol

Is It Wise to Use Cholesterol Lowering Medications for Children?

A recent study has revealed that nearly 2, 00, 000 US teens and pre-teens need cholesterol lowering drugs. The study also reveals that 5.2 to 6.6 percent children have high LDL levels, while 9.6 to 10.7 percent have high total cholesterol, and of these, at least 0.8 percent qualify for statin treatment.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) has been increasingly urging cholesterol screen testing for children and administer them with the right medication, if required. While many a times, opting for a healthy lifestyle can help curb the cholesterol levels in children. Such children may not need cholesterol lowering drugs. However, there are certain cases in kids where the cholesterol levels may be high enough to call for the need cholesterol lowering drugs.

How does the problem begin?
High cholesterol levels, is a problem that starts in childhood.  Over time, building up of cholesterol results in a hard substance called plaque which can further lead to heart diseases and cardiovascular attacks. Thus, it becomes important to check cholesterol levels on time and prevent a kid from reaching a worse stage. Also you should ensure that the kid does not develop bad lifestyle habits such as to stick to the video games and eat junk foods all the time. Such habits become biggest cause of  high cholesterol in the long run.

When does your child need cholesterol medicines?
As per the guidelines set forth by AAP, if the blood test of children aged 8 and above indicates high cholesterol level, they should be administered to the right medications. However, many cholesterol lowering medications have not been tested with children under the age of ten. For instance, Lipitor, a cholesterol lowering medication has not been tested with children under age of ten. Mevacor too has been tested with kids in the age group of ten to seventeen, but it remains untested for children under the age of ten.  

Children with a LDL (Low density Lipoprotein) higher than 190 mg/dl should also be given cholesterol lowering drugs, as per the AAP guidelines. If your kid has a high cholesterol level and risk factors such as diabetes and obesity are present, medication for lowering cholesterol should be used.  

What are the cholesterol drugs available for children?
The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends the use of statins for lowering cholesterol levels in children.  This cholesterol lowering drug works by inhibiting the enzyme called HMG Co-A reductase. This enzyme helps in the production of cholesterol in the liver. Statins, by inhibiting HMG Co-A reductase help in lowering cholesterol levels. They also cause a significant reduction in LDL levels. Statins are available in the market in the name of atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastsatin, pravastatin and several others.

The American Heart Association (AHA) too advocates the use of statins as the first line treatment for high cholesterol levels in children. It also suggests identifying children with any potential risk factors, so that the problem can be treated with lifestyle changes and the need for medication can be ruled out. Children who are overweight or obese or have lipid abnormalities should not just be screened for cholesterol level but also for various aspects of metabolic syndrome.

It's rightly said a stitch in time saves nine. You too can save your child by acting on time before it gets too late.