What should I consider when weighing use of the cholesterol lowering drugs, known as statins, for my child?
Parents should carefully consider statin therapy for their children as the risks might outweigh potential benefits. Consumer Reports offers a variety of tips for parents to consider, including:
• First, identify whether your child has any of the traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease: being overweight or obese; having diabetes; having a family history of premature heart disease; or being a smoker.
• If your child does have one of these risk factors, improve the child's diet and increase physical activity with a goal of weight loss if it is needed. Lowering your child's cholesterol without a drug is preferable.
• For children who have elevated cholesterol but do not have traditional risk factors for heart disease and are otherwise healthy, there is a substantial lack of evidence that treating high cholesterol in this group would reduce the number of heart attacks. Consumer Reports BBD notes that to date, there are no long-term studies that show whether or not doing so reduces the number of heart attacks or other cardiovascular events as the child becomes an adult.
• For children with traditional risk factors for heart disease, such as having diabetes or high blood pressure, smoking, those who are overweight or obese (high BMIs), or those with a family history of early-onset heart disease, cholesterol levels may be more important. But lifestyle changes are particularly crucial for this age group, and they include losing weight if needed, increasing exercise and improving a child's diet for at least two years before considering a drug therapy.