Youth Guidelines Would Significantly Up Statin Rates

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Youth Guidelines Would Significantly Up Statin Rates
Youth Guidelines Would Significantly Up Statin Rates

(HealthDay News) -- If all physicians followed new cholesterol guidelines aimed at children, almost half a million Americans aged 17 to 21 would be prescribed a statin, new research predicts. The study was published online April 6 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Holly Gooding, M.D., of Boston Children's Hospital, and colleagues looked at data from 6,338 participants, aged 17 to 21, tracked in federal government health surveys between 1999 and 2012.

Gooding's team found that 2.5 percent of those with elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol would qualify for statin treatment under the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) cholesterol guidelines for children, compared with only 0.4 percent under the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association adult guidelines. That means that 483,500 people in that age group would qualify for statin treatment under the NHLBI guidelines, compared with 78,200 under adult guidelines, the researchers reported. Compared with those who met the adult guidelines, those who met the children's guidelines had lower average LDL cholesterol levels, but higher rates of other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as hypertension, obesity, and smoking.

It's common for abnormal cholesterol levels and other cardiovascular disease risk factors to start appearing when people are teens, but the two sets of recommendations offer doctors conflicting advice, the researchers said. For now, they recommend that physicians and patients "engage in shared decision making around the potential benefits, harms, and patient preferences for treatment," the authors write.

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