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Cholesterol testing for children.


Although the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that children with a family history of heart disease be screened for cholesterol levels, a University of Maryland (UM) cardiologist strongly urges that all children be screened regardless of family history, whether or not their parents have high-risk levels themselves.

In a study presented November 13 at the AHA's annual scientific meeting, Dr. David Meyerson, director of UM's Center for Preventive Cardiology, found that one-third of children tested with high cholesterol levels had neither a family history of heart disease nor parents with high cholesterol levels. Of the 235 children aged four to 18 tested, 114 had blood cholesterol levels above 170--the recommended upper limit for children. Were doctors to rely on a detailed family history of heart disease alone in this group, rather than cholesterol tests, they would miss nearly two-thirds of the cases, says Dr. Meyerson. The bottom line to all of this, he says, is that there is no adequate way of identifying high-risk children short of actually going ahead and screening them; therefore, he believes that the best prevention should begin in childhood, since high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart and blood vessel disease, currently this nation's most deadly scourge.

As a result of this study and others, says Meyerson, the AHA may alter its policy concerning cholesterol screening for children once the National Institute of Health's National Cholesterol Education pediatric panel meets in late November to review all data presented to it. Once the panel makes its recommendations, Meyerson expects the AHA to follow suit.

In a recent issue of The Saturday Evening Post, parents were urged to begin diabetes testing programs in their communities. If Dr. Meyerson's recommendations for cholesterol testing of children is supported by other specialists in the field in response to his study, such testing could easily be incorporated into a diabetes testing program.

PHOTO : Eastman Kodak computerized equipment on the Children's Better Health Institute HEALTHMOBILE issues accurate cholesterol readings in minutes.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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