We often tend to associate high cholesterol only with adults. But, can an obesity and unhealthy lifestyle lead to this condition in children? Read on to find out.
By Ashwin Dewan
Shilpa Sachdev could never have imagined that a routine trip to the doctor for her son could leave her shocked. Although her four-year-old son was putting on weight rapidly, Shilpa thought it was normal and a case of baby fat. The diagnosis revealed otherwise. Her son had unhealthy cholesterol levels. Being fat does not necessarily mean being fit, and this applies to children as well.
The above case proves that while children are not as vulnerable as adults to suffer from high cholesterol, it is not entirely uncommon. According to an article published in a leading news website, a study conducted by a senior cardiologist on 2000 plus school student between the ages of 14-18 years in the city of Delhi resulted in alarming figures. Of the students, almost 23 per cent were suffering from high cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance made by the liver to help form the walls of cells and organs. It is a vital part of the brain and nervous system with the liver converting the fat one eats into cholesterol.
Elevated or high cholesterol in children can be linked to three factors:
There are generally no signs or symptoms of high cholesterol in children. For adults, symptoms include small fat deposits on their skin.
High cholesterol levels can increase your child’s risk of heart disease and stroke when he or she gets older. This ClipBook looks at ways to reduce cholesterol in children.
Normally, screening for cholesterol in children should begin at the ages of 10 and 12. Undergoing such tests becomes necessary when there is a strong family history of heart disease or if a parent of the child has high cholesterol.
It has been observed that most children who suffer from high blood cholesterol have parents with similar problems. While in some cases like overweight children, weight management is the primary treatment, in other cases, drug treatment can be considered.
Children can suffer from high cholesterol but if a proper diet along with changes in lifestyle is made, cholesterol can be kept at bay.
Cholesterol is of two types:
1) Low-density lipoproteins: These are the ‘bad’ cholesterol. Too much buildup of LDL results in the formation of plaque, which causes the blood vessels to become blocked. This can result in a heart attack.
2) High-density lipoproteins: These are the ‘good’ cholesterol. They carry the cholesterol away from the arteries back to the liver and prevent the formation of plaque.
While most parents think that children cannot suffer from cholesterol at all, elevated cholesterol levels in children can result in heart disease and stroke later in adulthood. According to the American Heart Association, there is sound research that the process of cholesterol buildup in arteries begins in childhood.
With inputs from Dr Binoy John, Cardiologist, Chennai.
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