Cholesterol Screening Should Begin During Childhood
Cholesterol screenings should begin in childhood, according to new guidelines released by the National Lipid Association.
The group suggests that screening for high cholesterol should be performed when children when they're between 9 and 11 years old, and urges that families with a history of premature cardiovascular disease or elevated cholesterol screen children with a simple blood test as early as two years old.
"It's important that people know if a history of high cholesterol runs in their family," Dr. Patrick M. Moriarty, professor of medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center and an author of the guidelines, said in a news release from the organization. "Family discussions can lead to early diagnosis, which is critical because changes in diet and eating habits at a young age can help reduce the impact…later in life. Plus, treatment is more effective when started early, before cholesterol deposits in blood vessels become too advanced."
Inherited high cholesterol, or familial hypercholesterolemia, a condition treatment marked by high LDL cholesterol (the "bad" type of cholesterol that blocks arteries), affects more than 600,000 Americans, according to the Association.
"Some estimates suggest that only 20% of patients with [familial hypercholesterolemia] are properly diagnosed, and, of those, less than half receive appropriate treatment," Moriarty said.