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Statin Use For Youngsters, Teens Revised

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, February 17, 2009 11:45 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Statins, Cholesterol, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Vytorin, Lipitor, LDL, HDL, Heart Attack

Statin recommendations for youngsters are revised after this second look at data.



IMAGE SOURCE:© Wikimedia Commons/ Cholesterol/ Author: RedAndr


When the news came out in 2007 that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was recommending children as young as eight be given statins to lower cholesterol – it appeared to be words directly from the pharmaceutical companies to consumer’s ears.

Many thought that was absurd at worst. Dr. Earl S. Ford thought the numbers didn’t make sense. That’s when he began his research.

Doing a computerized analysis on the same numbers that AAP used - from a national survey taken 1999 to 2006, including information on almost 10,000 youngsters ages six through 17 - he has come to a different conclusion.

Dr. Ford directs the U.S. Public Health Service.  His research finds that less than one percent of youngsters fit the criteria for statins. His research is published in the online journal Circulation

AAP had recommended children with cholesterol readings of 190 or higher might be given statins to lower “bad” cholesterol or LDL. AAP also recommended that the cholesterol-lowering drugs be given to youngsters with diabetes and a 130 reading, or children with a 160 reading who are obese or smoke. 

The recommendation was geared at heading off heart disease that is thought to be the end result from a high cholesterol reading.

The American Heart Association’s first recommendation for high cholesterol readings in youngsters does not include a drug message.  Exercise and a healthy diet come before drugs. It recommends selective screening for kids who have a family history of high cholesterol and early heart disease.

The AAP is not altering its recommendations following this new report, but generally agrees with the diet and exercise approach before drugs.  

The most common side effects of statins include headache, GI tract upset, muscle and joint aches, or rash.

Studies have shown that niacin has also been found to lower cholesterol without drugs.

IB News Philadelphia partner, Jamie Sheller reminds us that during 2008, serious questions were been raised about Vytorin, used for lower cholesterol. The drug is a combination of two medicines, Zetia and Zocor, and it is a product of Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals and is used in patients who don't get the necessary results from traditional statins, such as Zocor or Crestor. Vytorin is used by millions of patients.

However, in 2008, a clinical trial seemed to indicate that Vytorin was no more effective than a cheaper generic statin in its ability to sweep plaque from arteries and a study has shown an increased risk of cancer deaths among Vytorin users.   #

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