One-third to nearly one-half of all children and adolescents should be tested for cholesterol levels, according to new guidelines recently published by The American Heart Association in Circulation.
According to the AHA, the physicians who care for these at-risk youth face an unexpected obstacle -- their parents. The AHA finds "low levels of parental compliance with both cholesterol screening and intervention." In response, a growing number of pediatricians are utilizing lab-accurate testing equipment that allows them to conduct the screenings in their office.
Donna Miller, MD, a Bennington, VT-based pediatrician uses the Cholestech Corporation LDX(R) cholesterol screening device in her private practice. "Point of care testing is a wake-up call for parents. Many don't take their kids to off-site labs and, unfortunately, educating parents is also part of the challenge for pediatricians," says Miller. "Most parents need to be counseled about altering nutrition and lifestyle habits not only for their children but for their entire family. If you're able to test a child right there and then in your office, then you've got the parents as well. Point of care allows a physician to do a more effective job."
Says Petrina Marchica, clinical office manager at Beach Pediatrics in Island Park, NY, which uses the Cholestech LDX as a standard part of annual checkups, "Point-of-care testing is much more powerful because patients don't have to wait to come back to the office to learn the results and the prescribed course of action. Doctors are able to advise them on what needs to be done immediately. When testing is done off-site, parents don't always take their children to the lab right away, even if it is a necessary element of their annual exam. In-office testing offers convenience and benefits for patients, parents and doctors. Also, our medical staff appreciates how easy the LDX is to use, and parents appreciate that the fingerprick is so child- friendly, especially as compared to a blood draw."
According to the AHA scientific statement, physicians should conduct a full lipid profile on children and adolescents who present with a high-risk family history, including familial hypercholesterolemia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes or early heart attack and stroke. Children and adolescents who are overweight or obese should also be screened. Physicians should continue to monitor patients as they grow, taking into consideration factors that effect cholesterol in children, such as race, gender and puberty. Although prior guidelines, established in 1992, estimated that 25 percent of children and adolescents should be targeted for cholesterol screening, more recent studies suggest the number is actually between 36 percent and 46 percent.
"The American Heart Association has made it clear that early lipid screening and appropriate treatment can make a difference in the future cardiac health of children and adolescents," said Warren E. Pinckert II, president and CEO of Cholestech. "The LDX allows pediatricians not only to fulfill the screening recommendations, but also to begin immediate counseling of the parents and patients about lifestyle changes or medication. The screening results may be the wake up call that some parents need in order to move toward a healthier lifestyle, and that ultimately benefits the entire family."
The LDX testing system from Cholestech offers physicians a fast way to obtain a complete lipid profile in children and adolescents, including a patient's LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). Results are available within five minutes following a simple finger stick (no painful venous draw is required). The LDX is CLIA-waived and is certified to the Cholesterol Reference Method Laboratory Network (CRMLN) standard established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and consistent with National Cholesterol Education Program analytical goals. The LDX has been used for lipid screening in clinical research in children as reported in at least three published studies.