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Cholesterol levels among youth see decline

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — In a study involving more than 16,000 U.S. children and adolescents, there has been a decrease in average total cholesterol levels over the past two decades, although almost 1-in-10 subjects had elevated total cholesterol in the 2007-2010 period, according to a study published in the Aug. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The process of [hardening of the arteries] begins during childhood and is associated with … high concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C), and triglycerides, and low concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C)," according to background information in the article. "For more than 20 years, primary prevention of coronary heart disease has included strategies intended to improve overall serum lipid concentrations among youths."

Researchers found that among youths ages 6 to 19 years between 1988-1994 and 2007-2010, there was a decrease in average total cholesterol from 165 mg/dL to 160 mg/dL. Between 1988-1994 and 2007-2010, there also was a decrease in prevalence among youths ages 6 to 19 years of elevated total cholesterol from 11.3% to 8.1%. In 2007-2010, 22% of youths had either a low HDL-C level or high non-HDL-C, which was lower than the 27.2% in 1988-1994.

"Between 1988-1994 and 2007-2010, a favorable trend in serum lipid concentrations was observed among youths in the United States but adverse lipid profiles continue to be observed among youths," noted Brian Kit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead researcher. "For example, in 2007-2010, slightly more than 20% of children aged 9 to 11 years had either a low HDL-C or high non-HDL-C concentration, which, according to the most recent cardiovascular health guidelines for children and adolescents, indicates a need for additional clinical evaluation."


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FDA accepts Teva contraceptive pill application

BY Alaric DeArment

FRAZER, Pa. — The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing a regulatory application from Teva for a contraceptive drug, the company said Monday.

Teva Women’s Health, part of Israeli drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, announced the FDA’s acceptance of its application for Quartette (levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol and ethinyl estradiol), which the company called the first ascending-dose, extended regimen oral contraceptive for preventing pregnancy.

"Quartette is an ascending-dose regimen oral contraceptive intended for prevention of pregnancy," Teva Women’s Health R&D senior director of clinical affairs Nancy Ricciotti said. "We looked at when and why breakthrough bleeding occurs and designed Quartette to have less disruptive, unscheduled bleeding."

Breakthrough bleeding is a side effect that often occurs in women taking birth control pills, increasing during the first few months of treatment, and is one of the reasons why a large number of women discontinue extended regimens.

 


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CDC: Tobacco use among teens on slow decline

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Tobacco use among American middle school and high school students showed a slow decline from 2000 to 2011, according to a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But when compared with other long-term studies, such as the "Youth Risk Behavior Survey," the steep rate of decline from 1997 to 2003 noticeably has slowed. CDC’s report found that in 2011 nearly 30% of high school males and 18% of high school females used some form of tobacco. More than 8% of middle school males and nearly 6% of middle school females used some form of tobacco in 2011.

Though tobacco use continued an 11-year downward trend, tobacco use remains high among high school students, the CDC said. Nearly 25% of high school males and more than 17% of high school females used some form of smoked tobacco product — cigarettes, cigars — in 2011, while smokeless tobacco use among high school males (12.9%) was eight times higher than among high school females (1.6%).

“An overall decline in tobacco use is good news, but although 4-out-of-5 teens don’t smoke, far too many kids start to smoke every day,” CDC director Thomas Frieden said. “Most tobacco use begins and becomes established during adolescence. This report is further evidence that we need to do more to prevent our nation’s youth from establishing a deadly addiction to tobacco.”

The study, “Current Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011,” published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, reported no significant declines in the use of any tobacco product among middle school students from 2009 to 2011. However, cigarette use declined from 19.2% in 2009 to 15.8% among Hispanic high school students.

For an online version of the MMWR report, click here.


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