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  • BMJ: ‘Adding a sulfonylurea to metformin looks safer than switching to one’

    BMJ: ‘Adding a sulfonylurea to metformin looks safer than switching to one’

    Wednesday, 25 July 2018 14:07
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    Effect of omega-3 or other fatty acids on heart disease is negligible finds Cochrane review

    Thursday, 19 July 2018 10:36
  • DOACs associated with reduced risk of major bleeding compared to warfarin

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    Wednesday, 11 July 2018 13:22
  • Recorded penicillin allergy associated with increased risk of MRSA and C difficile

    Recorded penicillin allergy associated with increased risk of MRSA and C difficile

    Tuesday, 03 July 2018 16:51
  • MPS advises of need for better awareness of cauda equina red flag symptoms

    MPS advises of need for better awareness of cauda equina red flag symptoms

    Wednesday, 09 May 2018 16:01

a stethoscope image cbJanuary 18 2018

A new study has found no statin-related safety issues for statins being used to treat children with familial hypercholesterolaemia. However, the research has highlighted that many children with FH are not being treated with statins.

While analysis of medical records for 300 children with FH found a significant variation in statins usage and dosing, it estimated that statin treatment had reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 31%. In addition, “no child showed elevated levels of markers of liver toxicity or muscle damage.” Nor did statins appear to have an impact on growth rate. It also found that the proportion of children with FH who were overweight or obese was lower than the respective proportion in children who did not have FH.

Over 56,000 children in the UK are thought to have FH, but only around 600 have been diagnosed. If untreated, it can cause premature coronary heart disease in half of men by the age of 50 and a third of women by the age of 60. However, once diagnosed, FH is easy to treat with statins, said the British Heart Foundation. It funded the research, led by Professor Steve Humphries of University College London, which has been published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.

Prof Humphries said: “These findings are incredibly reassuring. Research has shown that children with FH start to develop a build-up of fatty plaque in their arteries before the age of 10. Statin treatment can not only prevent, but actually reverse this build up. Now, we can offer parents of children with the condition further comfort that the treatment is safe to take from a young age.”

Two statins are licensed in the UK for use in children with FH – pravastatin from age 8 years upwards, and atorvastatin in children aged 10 and upwards.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, the BHF’s Medical Director, added: “We already know that the benefit of taking a statin far outweighs any risk for adult patients at high risk of heart attacks. Children with FH are at very high risk of developing early heart attack or stroke because of their increased cholesterol level and lowering their cholesterol is so vital.

“However, we should never assume that drugs that are safe in adults are also safe in children. That is why this research – which shows that statins are not causing damage to the organs or affecting growth of children – is so important and provides reassurance that they are safe to use in this age group.

“Findings like this also act as impetus to identify the many thousands of people undiagnosed with FH. Despite the evidence for genetic testing, its rollout across the country is patchy. The BHF is working with the NHS to try and ensure that all families affected by FH are offered the testing that could prevent a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke.”

Links:
BHF announcement         
SE Humphries et al. ‘The UK Paediatric Familial Hypercholesterolaemia Register: Statin-related safety and 1-year growth data’. Journal of Clinical Lipidology. In press. Published online November 22 2017.         

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