(NBC) – New data suggest plaque starts to accumulate on heart arteries at a young age but there are ways to stop the build up.
Checking heart health has always been part of a routine kids exam, but recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended doctors take a closer look at their cholesterol starting at age nine. When doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital looked at 12,000 cholesterol samples from kids ages nine to eleven, they were surprised at the prevalence of abnormal cholesterol.
“37% of children have cholesterol that falls in an abnormal range, whether it be elevated, or a larger percentage which are in the borderline range,” said Dr. Thomas Seery, m.D., cardiologist at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Doctors caution all the kids in the study were from Houston, so they don’t know if these results can be applied nationwide. They also don’t know if the samples were from kids with risk factors like obesity.
What they do know is that high cholesterol can start early.
Rather than medicate kids, doctors say starting healthy habits early can prevent the problem.