Posts Tagged ‘ cholesterol ’

Supplements May Ease Gestational Diabetes’ Effects

Monday, June 30th, 2014

The number of pregnant women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes is on the rise–recent data from the CDC reported that 1 in 10 pregnant women has the condition.  Those women may be relieved to learn of a small but promising new study that has found that taking certain supplements–vitamin D and calcium, specifically–can actually lower blood sugar readings and improve other measures of metabolic health that can suffer with gestational diabetes.

The study, which was conducted in Iran, was published in the journal Diabetologia and compared blood levels of women with gestational diabetes, some of whom had been given vitamin D and calcium supplements, and some of whom were given placebo pills.  The New York Times has more on the findings–and a cautious word from the researchers:

In the supplement group, fasting blood glucose and cholesterol levels improved, measures that deteriorated in the placebo group. There was no effect on triglyceride levels.

The senior author, Dr. Ahmad Esmaillzadeh, an associate professor at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, said that these supplements are not suitable for all women.

“Vitamin D has some toxic effects on women and their babies, so we cannot recommend that all women should take it,” he said.  “But we can recommend it for people with gestational diabetes who are vitamin D deficient.”

Image: Pregnant woman holding supplements, via Shutterstock

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High Cholesterol May Impact Fertility

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Couples–both women and men–who both have high cholesterol levels may find their fertility impacted, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.  More from HealthDay News:

When both the prospective mom and dad had high cholesterol levels, it took longer to conceive compared to those with lower cholesterol levels. The study also found the highest cholesterol levels among the couples who didn’t achieve pregnancy during the year-long study.

“This is the first time that cholesterol levels have been identified as a factor in pregnancy along with known factors, such as age and weight,” said lead researcher Enrique Schisterman, senior investigator and chief of the epidemiology branch at the U.S. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up in the body’s blood vessels, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Genetics and your family history play a role in your cholesterol levels, but so too, do diet and exercise, the institute says.

Schisterman noted that when both the man and the woman have high cholesterol it takes much longer to conceive.

“If the woman has high cholesterol and the man has normal cholesterol, then it takes longer, but not as long as when both have high cholesterol,” Schisterman said.

“When only the man has high cholesterol and the woman has normal levels, it doesn’t seem to have an effect,” he added.

Schisterman noted that while this study shows an association between cholesterol levels and time to conception, what isn’t known is whether high cholesterol causes the delay.

It’s also not clear if taking drugs to lower cholesterol would shorten the time to conception. “We don’t know that yet. Our study was not designed to see the effect of statins,” he said. Statins are medications used to lower cholesterol levels.

Also, it’s possible that diet and exercise, which are known to lower cholesterol, might also reduce the time to conception, Schisterman said.

“Having a healthy diet, exercising and maintaining normal cholesterol levels will help couples become pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child,” he said.

Image: Cholesterol, via Shutterstock

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About 1 in 3 Children Have High Cholesterol, Study Finds

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Childhood ObesityIn an alarming new study of more than 12,000 children with ages ranging from 9 to 11-years-old, 30 percent of them had “borderline” or “abnormal” cholesterol levels. And about 98 percent of those levels are caused by obesity, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition. According to the study’s author, high cholesterol levels in childhood are the greatest predictor of high cholesterol in adulthood. More from USA TODAY:

Nearly one-third of children may have worrisome levels of cholesterol, putting them at risk for cardiovascular problems decades later, according to a new study.

The study of more than 12,000 9- to 11-year-olds, presented today at the American College of Cardiology’s annual conference in Washington, found that 30 percent of those tested had “borderline” or “abnormal” levels of cholesterol.

“It’s a problem that’s underdiagnosed,” said study author Thomas Seery, a pediatric cardiologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, both in Houston.

The greatest predictor of high cholesterol in adulthood, Seery said, is the rate in childhood.

In 2011, an expert panel convened by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute issued guidelines that called, among other things, for cholesterol screening of all children before and at the end of adolescence. In the Houston study, researchers found that nearly 5,000 of the children were at risk for or had high cholesterol and roughly the same number were obese. It’s not clear whether they were tested for high cholesterol because they had a problem or if their screening was routine.

About 1 percent-2 percent of high cholesterol in children is due to inherited problems with cholesterol regulation, Seery said. The rest is caused by obesity, lack of exercise and a poor diet.

“There’s no question that we are seeing alarming increases in obesity and elevated cholesterol levels in children and adolescents,” said Steven Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who was not involved in the study.

Nissen said he is not convinced that screening all kids for high cholesterol is an effective way to approach the problem. He’s concerned that extra screening will lead doctors to prescribe more medications to children.

Any obese child should be counseled about making lifestyle changes, even without knowing his or her cholesterol levels, Nissen said. There’s no proof that screening improves patient health, but it would cost a significant amount to run blood tests on every child, he said.

Seery disagrees, as does Robert Eckel, former president of the American Heart Association. They say universal screening would at least prompt a conversation between doctor and patient about the need for a healthy lifestyle.

“We really need to emphasize prevention, and that begins in childhood,” said Eckel, an endocrinologist and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. “This could be a good opportunity to sit down with parents and move them in the right direction.”

In other research presented at the conference today, doctors from New York University’s Langone Medical Center in Manhattan reported that married adults were less likely to have cardiovascular disease than people who are single, divorced or widowed. The study analyzed data on more than 3.5 million Americans and found that people who are married have a 5 percent lower risk of having any cardiovascular disease than being single.

In the study of 12,700 9- to 11-year-olds in Houston, researchers found:

• 37 percent had borderline or elevated levels of total cholesterol.

• 32 percent had borderline or low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

• 36 percent had borderline or elevated levels of non-HDL cholesterol.

• 46 percent had borderline or elevated levels of triglycerides.

What can you expect from your growing toddler? Take our Toddler Nutrition Quiz to find out!

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Image: Closeup view of scales on a floor and kids feet via Shutterstock.

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Doctors Challenge Merits of Testing Kids’ Cholesterol

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

An article published in the journal Pediatrics is criticizing recent government recommendations that 9-11 year-old children have tests to screen their cholesterol levelsThe Associated Press reports that one of the major critiques is that members of the government panel that made the recommendations have ties to the drug industry.

Eight of the 14 guidelines panel members reported industry ties and disclosed that when their advice was published in December. They contend in a rebuttal article in Pediatrics that company payments covered costs of evaluating whether the drugs are safe and effective but did not influence the recommendations.

It also is not uncommon for experts in their fields to have received some consulting fees from drug companies.

Even so, the ties pose a conflict of interest that “undermines the credibility of both the guidelines and the process through which they were produced,” says the commentary by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco. The authors are Dr. Thomas Newman, a researcher and former member of a Food and Drug Administration pediatrics advisory committee, and two heart disease researchers, Drs. Mark Pletcher and Stephen Hulley.

Pletcher has received research funding from drug and device makers; the other authors said they had no relevant industry ties.

Other criticism was published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That critique raised concerns about putting children on cholesterol drugs called statins, noting the medicine has been linked with a rare muscle-damaging condition in adults. Those authors were heart specialist Bruce Psaty and pediatrician Frederick Rivara, both of the University of Washington in Seattle.

Image: Child getting blood drawn, via Shutterstock.

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Panel Recommends Routine Cholesterol Screening Between Ages 9 and 11

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Children should universally have a cholesterol test performed between ages 9 and 11 to screen for elevated risk for heart disease, a government panel recommended last week. The recommendation is subject to debate between doctors who believe early testing could help parents set their kids on healthy eating and exercise regimens, and those who fear that the tests will lead to overuse of prescription cholesterol-lowering drugs in children.

The panel, which was convened by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, argued that children who control their cholesterol levels during childhood substantially lower their risk of developing later heart disease.

“We came up with these new guidelines based on a number of studies showing that the current approach to cholesterol screening misses children with substantially elevated levels who could benefit from changing their diet or increasing their physical activity,’’ Dr. Stephen Daniels, chairman of the panel that reviewed the guidelines and pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital Colorado, told The Associated Press.

Currently, cholesterol tests are not routine for children, unless they have a significant family risk or other health problems like diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure.

The American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed the panel’s recommendation.

Image: Little girl having a blood test via Shutterstock.

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