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INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – Heading for a heart attack.
Do you know how old your kid’s arteries are? They may be older than you think.
You wouldn’t know it to watch her compete in cheerleading, but 13-year-old Kennedy Jefferson could easily be on track for a heart attack when she reaches her twenties or thirties.
“You wouldn’t have looked at her and thought she had any, nothing wrong, I mean, everything else across the board is fine,” said Kennedy’s mom, Cara.
The one problem Kennedy does have is high cholesterol.
“Anything over 200 is too high and hers was about 360, I wanna say. Yeah, through the roof,” explained Cara.
Cara was all too familiar with Kennedy’s high cholesterol. Cara had the same problem when she was a child. She still does as an adult.
“I had to watch what I ate. I couldn’t eat ice cream like the other little kids all the time,” explained Cara.
That’s why Cara had Kennedy’s cholesterol tested when she was just seven.
“They did give me a hard time about testing her. They didn’t want to draw her blood. It was not typical, they said, to have a child tested at that age and I was persistent about it and they did it and told me it was a good thing that I did,” said Cara.
Turns out, the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks all kids between nine and eleven should have their cholesterol checked, too.
“You can request the test. The test is available and is easy to perform,” said Dr. Mona Zawaideh with St. Vincent Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
Right now at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, doctors do targeted cholesterol testing on kids.
“Family history of early heart disease, hypertension, Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and also body mass index above the 97th percentile,” explained Dr. Zawaideh of the top risk factors.
Even kids who aren’t obese though, can still be at risk.
“A big proportion has to do with genetics,” said Dr. Zawaideh. “You are born with your genes. That doesn’t just develop because you became obese.”
“Since I was born with it, there’s not really anything I can do,” said Kennedy Jefferson of her high cholesterol.
Kennedy does take the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor with her mom every day.
“Everyday. She has to take it for the rest of her life,” explained Cara.
The family also tries to eat healthy.
“I don’t fry anything,” explained Cara.
“When I’m at school and certain exceptions I, of course, eat pizza and nachos, but when I’m home, I stick to more fruits and that sort of stuff,” said Kennedy.
Cara will eventually have her younger children tested for high cholesterol, too, especially now that more doctors are on board with doing the test.
“I’m glad that they’re doing that now, that that’s the new norm,” said Cara.
This mom said she just wants her children to have healthy hearts instead of hearts that are prone to stop working long before they should.