July 7, 2008
"This is potentially the first generation of kids that aren't going to outlive their parents, which is scary," said Dr. Bill Hammill, a pedatric cardiologist at Martha Jefferson Hospital.
A revelation that has the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending that some kids, even as young as eight, be given drugs to lower their cholesterol. But doctors say it depends on the patient.
"There's high cholesterol because you don't eat right or don't exercise, but there's also high cholesterol that comes from genetics, that inherited high cholesterol," said Hammill.
Hammill says everyone needs cholesterol but there's a difference between good cholesterol, HDL, and bad, LDL.
"The LDL cholesterol is what people typically refer to as the bad cholesterol, so when that's real high the risk of heart disease increase," said Hammill.
But drugs may not be the answer to lowering a child's cholesterol.
"For every kid out there, we would say exercise is critically important, and eating right is critically important. I want that 10-year-old to develop the eating habits that are going to take him into his seventies," said Hammill.
And when diet and exercise aren't enough.
"But in those cases when diet and exercise aren't enough alone then there may be a place for drugs," said Hammill.
Hammill says that parents should have their child's cholesterol checked between the ages of two and 10 in order to make an informed decision about using drugs.