Cholesterol Management

How to Lower Cholesterol with Diet

  • Statins (stat-TENS)
    Why should I take a statin?
    Good question! Statins are medications that help reduce the cholesterol level in your blood. Cholesterol is a type
    of fat which helps your body function normally. High levels of cholesterol may cause your blood vessels to become
    clogged up”, slowing the flow of blood to your heart, brain and other important organs as you age. While this
    process starts when you are a child, it takes many years before it can cause health problems.
    The medication that has been recommended for you, called a statin, has been shown to help reduce the risk of
    heart disease in people with high cholesterol from genetic conditions, often referred to as FH or familial
    hypercholesterolemia. Statins may also be helpful in reducing health risks in children who are overweight, obese,
    or have other health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, Kawasaki disease, heart transplants, chronic kidney
    disease, and cancer survivors.
    How do I know if I need a statin?
    Your healthcare team will help you decide if a statin is right for you. If your high cholesterol is not caused by a
    medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, you will be taught how to choose foods and snacks that are low in
    fat, and encouraged to become more physically active. You will be asked to repeat a blood test, usually in 3-6
    months, to see if your cholesterol level has improved. If not, it is likely your high cholesterol is genetic, which
    means it is a trait you inherited from one or both of your parents. In that case, your healthcare team will
    recommend a statin to lower your cholesterol to help you stay healthy.
    Are statins safe?
    Yes. Studies have shown that statins are safe and well tolerated by children. Your healthcare team will make sure
    your statin is working properly and is safe for you to take. While muscle aches and pains occurs in some adults who
    are taking a statin, they rarely occur in children. Girls who are sexually active should use an effective form of birth
    control to avoid become pregnant while taking a statin. If pregnant occurs, the statin should be stopped
    immediately. If planning to become pregnant, girls should talk to their healthcare team about when to stop their
    statin before discontinuing birth control.
    How should I take my statin?
    As with all medications, statins should only be taken as prescribed. Statins are a small pill that you take by mouth
    once a day. Many children take it at bedtime, although it can be taken at any time of the day, with or without
  • food. Always store you statin in a safe place, away from small children and pets. Be sure to ask for refills before
    running out of your statin and check the expiration date frequently. You should never take medication that has
    expired. Ask your healthcare team or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about your statin. Notify
    your healthcare team right away if you feel differ or experience any problems while taking a statin.
    How long will I have to take a statin?
    If your high cholesterol is caused by a genetic trait, which is something you inherited from your parents, without
    medication you cholesterol level will always be high. While eating healthy meals and snacks, exercising, keeping
    your weight under control and avoiding smoking are all important in helping you stay healthy, for people with high
    cholesterol they are not enough. You will need medications from now on to lower your cholesterol level and
    reduce the risk of heart disease when you become an adult. While a statin is the best choice for now, newer
    medications to lower cholesterol may be available in the future.
    Will I be able to play games and participate in sports while I am taking a statin?
    Children can participate in all of their usual activates, including competitive sports and games, while taking a statin.
    Moderate-to-vigorous exercise and physical activity helps the statin work better to reduce your cholesterol levels
    and keep your heart strong. If you have a concern or an underlying health condition, talk with your healthcare
    team about how much and what kind of activities are best for you.
    What else can I do to stay healthy?
    A heart-healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, and staying physically active will
    help to decrease your cholesterol level and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke when you become an adult.
    Try to develop healthy habits like avoiding smoking (including exposure to second hand smoke) and drinking
    Parent Tear Sheet
    Use of statins (stat-TENS) in children and adolescents. What parents should
    Are statins recommended for children with elevated cholesterol?
    Yes. In 2001, the first statin (pravastatin) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in
    children less than 18 years-of-age, but only in those with a genetic condition that causes extremely high levels of
    LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) or “badcholesterol. This approved was based on scientific studies which showed that use
    of statins caused no problems with growth, development or reproductive function, and consistently lowered LDL-C
    to a level that helps reduce long-term risk of blood vessel and heart disease.
    Which statins are approved for children?
    All commercially available statins are FDA approved for children, pravastatin starting at age 8, all others at age 10
    and older. Sometimes a statin may be recommended in children less than 8 years-of-age, especially if your child
    has other risk factors or health conditions.
    How are statin taken?
    Statins are taken by mouth once a day, usually at bedtime. They can be taken with or with food. If your child has
  • been prescribed other medications, the statin can be taken at the same time. However, you should always check
    with your healthcare team to make sure all medications are compatible. Encourage your child to take medication
    only as prescribed, check the expiration date frequently, and anticipate the need for refills to avoid running out of
    medication. Never give your child medication that has expired. All medications, including statins, should be keep
    out of the reach of younger child. A healthy lifestyle will help your child’s statin do a better job of lowering
    What side effects can I expect if my child takes a statin?
    Your healthcare team will monitor your child’s response to the statin and carefully watch for any problems. The
    most common side effect of statins are muscle aches and pains, although they are rare in children. If your child
    experiences any symptoms after starting a statin, notify your healthcare team right away. A simple blood test (call
    creatine kinase or CK) can tell if the statin may be the cause of your childs muscle complaints. Most often muscle
    aches and pains are due to exercise, strenuous play, or injury, in which case the statin can safely be continued.
    How can I encourage my child to take his/her statin properly?
    Children often forget to take their statin. If your child’s supply of statin lasts longer than it should, he/she is
    missing doses. You may find a pill dispenser, calendar or other reminder system helps your child to be more
    consistent. If your child has difficulty swallowing a pill, ask your healthcare team for suggestions.
    Are there long-term studies of statin use in children?
    While it is always good to remain cautious, 20 year follow-up studies of children who started treatment in their
    teens have shown statins to be both safe and effective.
    How long will my child need to take a statin?
    Without medication, children with a genetic variant have high cholesterol their entire life. Therefore a statin, or in
    the future, some other cholesterol lowering medication, is needed from now on. While a healthy lifestyle is still
    important, it is not sufficient without medication to keep the cholesterol under control and reduce the chances of
    heart disease when your child becomes an adult.
    Will my child be able to play games and participate in sports while taking a statin?
    Children can participate in all of their usual activates. If you have a concern or your child has an underlying health
    condition, talk with your healthcare team about how much and what kind of activities are best.

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