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Study recommends cholesterol testing for children

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Cholesterol testing is a primary component of annual physicals for most adults. However, a new report from researchers at West Virginia University suggests that regular screening may be needed for children as young as 10.

Current recommendations from government health agencies say that only children who have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease should be tested. However, the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, says that doctors who follow these guidelines fail to diagnose 36 percent of children with high cholesterol.

Administering cholesterol tests to young children has come under recent criticism. Children who are diagnosed with high cholesterol may be prescribed statin medications, which were recently approved by the FDA for use in children as young as 10. However, once a person starts taking statins they may have to take them for the rest of their life or risk dangerous complications.

However, researchers claim that cholesterol testing is the only way to know which children have unhealthy levels and are at risk for heart disease.

"Our data suggests that if you were to follow the [existing] recommendation, you would miss 36 percent of children who have significant and quite elevated cholesterol levels," William Neal, who led the investigation, told CNN.

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