Cholesterol checks... for kids? - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Cholesterol checks... for kids?

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Doctors say high cholesterol levels in youngsters can point to problems later in life. (KTEN) Doctors say high cholesterol levels in youngsters can point to problems later in life. (KTEN)

DENISON, Texas -- Parents: Pediatricians say getting cholesterol checks for your children now could help them later in life.

"A lot of adults think it's something they need to start thinking about when they're in their older 50s, 60s, 70s," said Texoma Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Jeannine Hatt. "But it's been shown that actually children are the ones who need to be really involved in the prevention of heart disease."

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to get children as young as nine screened for heart disease.

"Arthrosclerosis, which is the deposit of waxy substances like cholesterol inside the arteries, starts in childhood, starts as early as age 10 in some research," Dr. Hatt said.

The AAP recommends that children undergo a cholesterol screening once between the ages of nine and 11 and then again during their teen years.

"It used to be that if you had a family history of heart disease at a young age or high cholesterol, then the child should be tested," Dr. Hatt said. "But too many children were being missed in those screenings."

Doctors say several factors have contributed to the change in recommended screening age.

"If you have a family history that puts you at greater risk, but there's no doubt that the American diet and us being a more sedentary society is impacting it," Dr. Hatt said.

There are things kids can do to fight heart disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics says there are things kids can do every day to fight the risk of heart disease:

  • one hour of vigorous activity every day
  • stay away from saturated fats, trans fats, salt, and sugar

 "Be aware," Dr. Hatt said. "Prevention is the best medicine. If an adult shows up in the emergency room with chest pain, it's really too late to make a big difference."

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