British kid
Britain could avoid 600 heart attacks in people below the age of 40 by conducting heart risk screening of kids throughout the country, as per UK researchers.[Representational image]Reuters

A new study claims that heart attacks in young adults can be avoided by getting the cholesterol of toddlers checked during routine vaccination visits. Researchers in the UK have found that heart diseases in youngsters termed as familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a genetic disorder.

According to a report by Queen Mary University of London's Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, the genetic disease can trigger the heart ailment risks in youngsters up to hundred times.

The world's largest screening so far was recently conducted across England. Over 10,000 kids, who were around one-year-old, were tested for high cholesterol levels and genetic mutations known to be associated with FH.

Forty children were tested positive, which pointed towards the rate of FH being one out of 270 kids. The parents of these kids were screened too and a parent was found to be FH positive.

"Overall, one person at high risk of early heart attack was identified for every 125 people tested," the study said.

The researchers said that conducting such a screening throughout Britain could avoid 600 heart attacks in people below 40 years of age.

"This is the first demonstration that child-parent screening works on a large scale," lead researcher David Wald was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

"It's the only screening method that stands a reasonable chance of covering the whole population and identifying those at highest risk of an early heart attack," he added.

After the children susceptible to high-cholesterol risk are identified, their health can be maintained by regular exercises, following a healthy lifestyle which avoids smoking and following a healthy and balanced diet. They can start consuming statin drugs once they grow older. These drugs prevent the liver enzymes from producing cholesterol.

"Now that we've demonstrated this as being effective across England, the next step is for public health agencies to consider offering this routinely at the time of childhood vaccination to test all children aged one to two years," Wald said.

"No extra clinic visits are needed and uptake is high because parents are already focused on the future health of their children and the family as a whole," he added.