Cardiovascular disease for the entire family

This month’s Journal of Pediatrics features an article for the entire family (J Pediatr 2012; 160: 590-7 [editorial pg 539]).  The authors demonstrate that children screened for cholesterol can serve as an index case for the entire family.  During a 26-year prospective followup of 852 pediatric patients (5-19 years old at enrollment) from Cincinnati, the authors assessed relationships of childhood risk factors with parental cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes (T2DM), and high blood pressure (HBP).

  • Pediatric HBP and low HDL cholesterol were predictive of parental CVD ≤age 50
  • Pediatric HBP and high triglycerides were predictive of parental CVD ≤age 60
  • Pediatric high triglycerides and high LDL cholesterol were predictive of parental CVD ≤age 66

The related editorial reviews large studies regarding lipid assessments, including the Bogalusa study with more than 3000 children and the Muscatine study with more than 14,000 children.  In addition, the editorial reviews the recommendations from an expert pediatric panel which suggested screening all children for dyslipidemia between 9 and 11 years. Interestingly, the editorial reviews the fact that screening for cholesterol has not been shown to harm children.  “The evidence is not sufficient to demonstrate any adverse affects.”

Although no harm has been proven, the expert recommendations do not have prospective data demonstrating benefit either.  While it is known that atherosclerotic lesions, including fatty streaks and calcifications, can develop in childhood, it is not known that current treatment strategies will improve long-term outcomes.  This study, however, provides an additional rationale for screening; namely, by identifying children with dyslipidemia, primary care providers can identify parents with cardiovascular disease who are more likely to benefit from urgent intervention.

Additional references:

  • (cholesterol risk calculator)
  • Pediatrics 2011; 128 (suppl 5): S213-56.  Expert panel guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents.
  • -NEJM 2011; 365: 2078.  Use of statins to lower LDL to 60-70 range halted progression of coronary artery disease.
  • -Pediatrics 2007; 120: e189, e215.  US Preventive Services Task Force:  “the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine screening for lipid disorders” up to age 20.  Consider pediatric drug Rx:
    1. After dietary failure
    2. LDL >190
    3. LDL >160 & FHx of CVD before age 55
    4. triglycerides >250-500 persistently
  • Pediatric Nutrition Handbook AAP Lipid types:type I -increased trig  (rare)
    type IIa -increased chol & LDL
    (most common)
       Homozygous: chol >500
         xanthomas before 10 yrs, vascular dz before age 20
       Heterozygotes with lower chol
    type IIb -elevated trig & chol/LDL
    (3rd most common)
    type III -abnormal LDL density (rare)
    type IV -elevated trig (2nd most common)
         may be increased with diabetes, obesity, inadequate fasting; may need to study parents to establish dx
    type V -increased trig/VLDL (rare)
         exclude nephrotic synd, hypothyroid, diabetes