Statins for 10 Year-Olds?


Doctors in Great Britain have already prescribed statins to children with the FH gene, which predicts early heart attacks.

As a recovering cardiac patient, I realize the value of the simvastain I take every day. In my regimen, the drug certainly has its place, along with Plavix, aspirin and my blood-pressure medication.

Earlier this week, hearing the report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommended that children in certain segments with certain risks be given statins in their formative, years made me think. The increasing numbers of obese children has no doubt prompted this. Many doctors in the UK seem to agree. High-risk children are already being treated with statins in Great Britain and the wider use of such drugs in children is being discussed.

Physicians, as a group, agree that the use of statins for some children whose genetic inheritance puts them seriously at risk of death from a heart attack in their 20s or 30s is justified. The report by the American Academy of Pediatrics goes even further.

The Academy wants cholesterol screening for all children with a family history of high cholesteral and heat disease, for children whose family history is unknown and for children with obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes between the ages of 2 and 10. If any of those over the age of 8 had high cholesteral levels, the report states, statins should be considered.

Another recommendation in the report is that babies who are overweight or obese at 12 months should be given reduced-fat milk and not whole milk.

"We are in an epidemic," Jatinder Bhatia, a member of the Academy’s nutrition committee, which made the recommendation, told reporters. "The risk of giving statins at a lower age is less than the benefit you’re going to get out of it."

Bhatia is a professor and chief of neonatology at the Medical College of Georgia. Naturally this report caused a major debate among American physicians, many of whom feel their patients, whether young or old, need to get more exercise and eat a more healthy diet.

"What are the data that show this (giving statins to children) is helpful in preventing heart attacks?" said Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist and assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts to reporters of The New York Times. “How many heart attacks do we hope to prevent this way? There is no data."

Then there is the question of whether giving such medocation to obese children in these situations is “politically correct’’ and would place a stigma on such youngsters.

Doctors in Great Britain have already prescribed statins to children with the FH gene, which predicts early heart attacks. The Academy feels the FH gene would not be the only factor in keeping children’s cholesteral at lower levels.

Patients come into physicians’ offices with all types of genetic markers. Some have high cholesteral readings with an excellent ratio. Should such children be given statins? As a recovering cardiac patient myself, I wonder what cholesteral readings would qualify.

On one hand, my cholesteral readings were in the 160 area when I had my heart attack. On the other, it was explained to me cholesteral needed to be lower for obvious reasons. Will the recommendations of the Academy be adopted? After much debate, we’ll all see.

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