February is American Heart Month, and there is no better time to start improving your health and protecting your heart, even if you’re only in your teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five teens, and more than 40 percent of obese teens have abnormal cholesterol levels, meaning they have high LDL (bad cholesterol) and low HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
This sobering number has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to require more aggressive testing in children who are considered overweight and obese. But what sparked a controversy is that children who have high cholesterol levels were recommended to take statins, a cholesterol-lowering medication usually prescribed to adults in their middle age. Children as young as 8 years old with bad cholesterol, over 190 mg/dl, have been prescribed statin to lower their cholesterol if they couldn’t do it with proper diet and exercise. Although statins are generally harmless, there’s no evidence of what can happen if you continue taking them over a lifetime. So now more so than ever, it’s important to be aware of your cholesterol levels (even if you’re just a teen), and to maintain a healthy diet, filled with whole grains, lean protein, nuts, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, and regular exercise, which are the best prescription in preventing any kind of health risk.
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