What to bring when preparing for your child's visit:
- Health insurance information including authorizations or referrals
- List of your child's prescription medications and dosages
- List of medications your child is allergic to
- Labs and Medical History (collapse): Please bring your child’s most recent lipid values (Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, Triglycerides).
- We strongly encourage that all patients' laboratory work be taken and sent to the clinic prior to the visit, for the highest quality discussion with the clinician. REMEMBER: No eating or drinking anything other than water after 8 p.m. the night before labs. Please contact us if you have any concerns about this.
- Writing down a family history (including parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles) ahead of time is extremely helpful.
- Food Record (collapse): You'll be asked to keep track of everything your child eats and drinks, as well as the amount your child exercises, for three days in the week or two prior to the visit (exercise can include active play, sports or structured exercise, such as running on the treadmill).
- List of questions you may have
- Paper and pencil to take notes
What happens at the visit?
Depending on the location of your visit, you and your child may participate in our heart healthy new patient class. If you do not partake in the class we will review this information with you individually at your visit. You will see two providers individually, the physician or nurse practitioner and the dietitian. The physician or nurse practitioner provides a full physical evaluation, reviews all preordered laboratories and offers medical analysis. The dietitian provides a full nutrition assessment, reviews your food record and typical diet and recommends heart healthy treatment goals. Further testing may be recommended at the time of your visit.
What to expect
After a thorough health evaluation, the clinic medical staff will develop a comprehensive plan for your child based on the causes underlying his or her abnormal cholesterol or blood pressure. For some, the plan includes a weight-loss component that incorporates heart healthy eating and exercise. In many children, when weight comes down, so does bad cholesterol and blood pressure. In addition to diet and exercise planning, the clinic offers long-term follow-up and routine monitoring of cholesterol levels, triglycerides, blood pressure and other important health indicators.
Successful treatment usually involves a lifetime commitment to healthy eating habits and exercise. In some cases, cholesterol-lowering medications or other medications for secondary illnesses may be incorporated. In children without a secondary illness, treatment with medication is typically secondary to making important lifestyle changes that will reduce your child’s risk for atherosclerosis while increasing stamina and helping him or her feel healthier and leaner.
The best approach is to make family-wide changes in eating and exercise. This makes change easier for your child; and often, multiple members of the family can benefit from making healthy changes, too. Utilizing different eating and activity plans for each family member can leave some children feeling singled out or isolated, making already difficult lifestyle changes even more so.
Changing the lifestyle of your family can be challenging. Rest assured that although there are no magic bullets, the clinicians, nurses and nutritionists at Children’s Hospital Boston have lots of experience helping thousands of parents facing the same challenges, and will offer strategies that have helped many other children and teens stick with the program.