While cholesterol levels in US youth have improved from 1999 to 2016, only half of the children and adolescents are in the ideal parameters and 25% are in the high clinical range, according to a study published in JAMA and led by Amanda Marma Perak. The study is the first to report the estimated prevalence of high cholesterol in young people in recent years, analyzing nationally representative data of more than 26,000 children and adolescents (between 6 and 19 years old).
In Spain the figures are not so high, although they are worrisome: 2 out of 10 children have cholesterol above healthy levels.
“High cholesterol in childhood is one of the key risk factors for the development of heart disease in the future,” Perak explains. “Although we see favorable trends in all cholesterol measures in children and adolescents over the years. We must still work harder to ensure that many more children have healthy cholesterol levels. We know that high cholesterol is the critical initiator of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, and even in childhood, they are associated with changes in blood vessels that can cause a heart attack in adulthood.”
For children and adolescents, ideal measures include total cholesterol (CT) at less than 170 mg / dL, LDL or “bad” cholesterol at less than 110 mg / dL and HDL or “good” cholesterol at more than 45 mg / dL. These levels are associated with better long-term health. All young people should be checked for cholesterol between 9 and 11 years old and again between 17 and 21 years old, according to the latest guidelines of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
“If a child is found to have high cholesterol levels, we can usually improve them through lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet and increased physical activity,” says Perak. “Children rarely receive medication to lower their cholesterol, such as statins More research is needed to understand the reasons for the favorable cholesterol trends we find Some factors that influence cholesterol may be improving, such as decreasing trans fats in the food supply. The fact that cholesterol levels are moving in the right direction deserves some optimism about the future cardiovascular health of our population, since cholesterol is an important vehicle of cardiovascular disease.”
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