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July 25, 2012
Director of Pediatric Cardiology Available for Comment on New Recommendation for Universal Cholesterol Screening during Childhood
MAYWOOD, Ill. - Joel Hardin, MD, director of pediatric cardiology at Loyola University Health System, is willing to comment on the merits and controversy surrounding a recent recommendation for universal cholesterol testing during childhood.
Late last year an expert panel of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute put forth a recommendation that all children be screened for high cholesterol when they are 9 to 11 years old. The expert panel also recommended screening even younger children if they have a personal or family history of other cardiovascular disease risk factors. These recommendations, although endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, have stirred debate among pediatricians about the wisdom of this approach to cardiovascular disease prevention during childhood.
The guidelines are promoted as a means to identify children at high risk for the No. 1 cause of cardiovascular disease - atherosclerosis - a condition that may lead to heart attacks and strokes during adulthood. It is estimated that around 10 percent of U.S. children have unhealthy cholesterol levels, and that one-third of U.S. children are also overweight or obese - further compounding health risks. Those opposed to the new guidelines say they are too aggressive and are concerned that they could be misunderstood or lead to unnecessary drug therapy for children with relatively minor blood cholesterol elevations.
Hardin’s position is similar to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Screening is important, and especially so for a small minority of children who may not know they possess a very dangerous condition called familial hypercholesterolemia wherein cholesterol levels are twice the normal range or higher. This condition places adult males at risk for heart attack in their 30s and females in their 40s. What’s more, familial hypercholesterolemia is very treatable. If screening detects an abnormal cholesterol result, there is no ‘one size fits all’ care plan, but rather a carefully crafted personalized care plan for that particular child,” Hardin said.
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Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.