Risk of Heart Disease in Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome is linked with health factors that may lead to heart disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) People with Down Syndrome are living longer because of better medical care, but with increasing age, heart disease may become a risk.

New research has shown that people with Down Syndrome may be more likely to have cholesterol and triglyceride levels that put them at risk for heart disease.

Careful monitoring is important for preventing the development of heart disease.

"Have your lipid levels checked yearly by your doctor."

A study, led by Tahira Adelekan, MD, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, looked at the lipid profiles of 27 Down Syndrome children between the ages of 4 and 10, and compared them to their siblings.

A lipid profile measures blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. An imbalance in good and bad cholesterol levels – HDL versus LDL – and high levels of triglycerides increase the risk of heart disease.

Dr. Adelekan’s study found that children with Down Syndrome had higher levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL). They also had lower levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

Obesity is common in children with Down Syndrome and is linked to poor lipid profiles. The researchers also looked at the study results in terms of body weight. When they controlled for body weight, the results were not changed.

By looking at siblings for comparison, the researchers were able to take into account familial influences on the lipid profile.  They were not, however, able to test whether the lipid profile will be associated with heart disease for the children in this study.

The researchers conclude that the poor lipid profile of children with Down Syndrome needs long term investigation. They recommend more study on detection and prevention of heart disease for children with Down Syndrome.

The study was published in the June issue of Pediatrics. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Down Syndrome Society and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 18, 2012
Last Updated:
July 30, 2012