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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Northwestern: Only Half of U.S. Kids and Teens Have Ideal Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol levels in U.S. youth have improved from 1999 to 2016, but only half of children and adolescents are in the ideal range and 25 percent are in the clinically high range, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in JAMA. 

The study is the first to report estimated prevalence of high cholesterol in youth in recent years, analyzing nationally representative data from more than 26,000 children and adolescents (ages 6 to 19 years).

“High cholesterol in childhood is one of the key risk factors for developing heart disease later in life,” said first author Dr. Amanda Marma Perak, assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Cardiology and a cardiologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “Although we see favorable trends in all measures of cholesterol in children and adolescents over the years, we still need to work harder to ensure that many more kids have healthy cholesterol levels. We know that high cholesterol is the critical initiator of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, and even in childhood it is associated with these changes in the blood vessels that can lead to heart attack in adulthood.”

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