If your child has been diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), you may find yourself with many questions. This relatively common disease is one of the causes of high cholesterol in children. As such, it’s important to learn as much as you can about your child’s conditions and your options for treatment. Below are some answers to questions you may be asking yourself after receiving the diagnosis.
What Is Familial Hypercholesterolemia?
You may also ask yourself, “What is pure hypercholesterolemia and how is that different?” FH and pure hypercholesterolemia are two names for the same condition. FH is an inherited disease that affect about 1 in 250 people worldwide. If one biological parent has FH, each child has a 50% chance of having FH.
Unfortunately, as much as 90% of people with FH have not been properly diagnosed. If left undiagnosed and untreated, this can lead to a significantly higher chance of having a heart attack before reaching 50 years of age. It can also lead to high cholesterol without medication. As uncomfortable as the diagnosis is, you are ahead of the game by knowing what your child’s condition is.
What Treatments are Available?
Your child with FH may begin taking medication for the condition as early as 8 years of age. The AAP recommends a type of medication called “statins,” for children with FH. These drugs can reduce your child’s LDL numbers by up to 50%.
Can My Child Ever Stop Medication?
Currently, there is no cure for FH. Because the medication can only work as long as they are taken and the high cholesterol is caused by his or her genetics, it is not likely that your child can be able to stop taking statins. However, his or her dosage may change based on growth, lifestyle changes, and other factors.
How Can Diet Changes Help?
Like with adults, poor diets are one of the causes of high cholesterol in children. All children and teens should be on a healthy diet to avoid high cholesterol. However, the stakes are raised when your child is diagnosed with FH. Talk to your child’s doctor about the right diet for your family. Although it can be incredibly difficult to get a kid to eat healthy, it’s important to stick to the plan. A little perseverance goes a long way.
If your child has been diagnosed with FH, take a deep breath and remember not to panic. Although this condition is one of the causes of high cholesterol in children, medical attention and lifestyle changes can keep your family happy and healthy.