Study Review Reveals Effectiveness of Statin Therapy in Children with Familiar Hypercholesterolemia

Study Review Reveals Effectiveness of Statin Therapy in Children with Familiar Hypercholesterolemia

NEW YORK, June 15, 2021 – Historically, treatment of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) has been delayed until children reach adulthood, however, data has shown significant long-term effects of undiagnosed and untreated cases in childhood. A systematic review of 10 studies between 1999-2016 was published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care revealing a safe and effective method of care of FH in childhood.

Heterozygous FH, one type of FH and the focus of this review, is a genetic disorder that affects the metabolism of low-density lipoprotein molecules and leads to elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDC-C) levels in the bloodstream. About one in every 250 individuals have this disorder. If untreated, premature health complications such as coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction can occur.

Although FH is not preventable, there are steps that can be taken to reduce LDL-C levels in children, including dietary changes, increased activity and pharmacological treatment. Statins are the first pharmacological agent of choice in children with FH, however, health care providers can be hesitant to prescribe statins in young patients owing to knowledge deficits about the use of statins in children.

This research review showed that statin therapy significantly reduces LDL-C levels in pediatric patients ages 6-18 years old with FH. There were no reported significant adverse effects, but little is known about the effects of long-term use.

“Because of the potential long-term health effects of elevated LDL-C level in children, pediatric providers should consider adding statin therapy to diet and exercise measures for this population,” said co-author Angela Nash, PhD, APRN, CPNP-PC, PMHS.

The article advises pediatric clinicians to explain the long-term adverse effects of untreated FH versus the potential for medication side effects and drug interactions so that patient families can make informed decisions on statin treatment for their child or adolescent. Pediatric patients on statin therapy should be frequently monitored for these potential adverse effects.

The review was published in the May/June edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care and can be accessed online.

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The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) is the nation’s only professional association for pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) dedicated to improving the quality of health care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Representing more than 8,000 healthcare practitioners with 18 special interest groups and 53 chapters, NAPNAP has been advocating for children’s health since 1973 and was the first APRN society in the U.S. Our mission is to empower pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses and key partners to optimize child and family health.

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