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Children's Health

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A Wake-Up Call: All Children Should Be Tested for High Cholesterol

Expert Panel Presents Heart Disease Prevention Strategies for Children

Address the Risks Early continued...

"Our guidelines are really comprehensive and integrative," Daniels tells WebMD. "We considered all risk factors together and designed the guidelines to be useful in an age-specific way."

Daniels says that eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and avoiding smoking are among the lifestyle factors that will help kids maintain a "low-risk status" throughout childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. And doing so will greatly lower the risk of future heart problems.

"If you can make it to 45 or 50 without risk factors, it's very unlikely that you will have heart disease," says Daniels. "This is another part of the rationale for the new guidelines -- to help maintain that low-risk status."

Wake-Up Call

Cleveland Clinic pediatrician Ellen Rome, MD, MPH, says parents should view the guidelines as a wake-up call to make necessary lifestyle changes that will benefit both them and their children.

"If parents don't know their child is at risk, they tend to take recommendations less seriously," says Rome, who was not a member of the panel that produced the guidelines. "Now, they will be more likely to say, 'Wow, we really do need to stop going to McDonald's five nights a week and start eating meals at home.'"

Rome sees cholesterol testing as a burden-free screening tool. Although several doctors on the guidelines panel received consulting fees or had other financial ties with pharmaceutical companies that make statins, including Daniels, both she and Daniels want to reassure parents that kids found to have high cholesterol will not be put on cholesterol-lowering medications.

"Most pediatricians will not be resorting to statins," says Rome.

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