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Lifeline

Teen cholesterol levels rise

The next time you consider giving your child a hot dog for lunch, think again.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one out of five American teenagers and more than 40 percent of obese teens have abnormal levels of serum cholesterol.

Autopsy results suggest that the first signs of heart disease appear in childhood. Early prevention may prevent complications down the road.

The CDC's report is based on 2008 recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP conducted a nationwide survey from 1999 through 2006 known as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This survey found that 20.3 percent of 3,125 children and teens ages 12 to 19 had higher-than-normal levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol or triglycerides, or low levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.

As a result, the CDC recommends more aggressive cholesterol testing and intervention in children as young as 2, particularly the overweight and obese. While body weight isn't necessarily a predictor of elevated cholesterol, one-third of the children tested were overweight or obese.

Unfortunately, the CDCs recommendations for intervention include treatment with a cholesterol-lowering statin drug for children as young as 8 with LDL over 190mg/dL who aren't able to lower their cholesterol with diet or exercise.

On the upside, early screening can give parents an excuse to teach children to manage their cholesterol levels. Doing so may prevent future heart disease.

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Wider range of knee patients

The typical knee-replacement patient is still a white retiree. But researchers have found a trend toward younger, more diverse patients having the surgery.

A study presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons compared data on total knee replacements (also known as total knee arthroplasty) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the periods 1990-1994 and 2002-2006. A research team led by the Mayo Clinic found the average age of arthroplasty patients decreased from 70 to 68 and that the percentage of minorities having the surgery increased from 8 to 9.4.

Rafael Sierra, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon and senior author on the study, pointed out in a statement that "total knee replacement is becoming a more established procedure." He added, "We're also getting better at it. We have better materials that are longer-lasting. So we feel more comfortable performing it on younger people now."

About 800,000 such procedures were performed in 1990-1994, and 2.1 million in 2002-2006.

Compiled from News wire sources.

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