Pediatrics - High Cholesterol
IntroductionHigh cholesterol occurs when there is too much or an unhealthy balance of cholesterol in the blood. Both children and adults can have high cholesterol. Your child’s body needs some cholesterol for healthy functioning, but too much is dangerous to your child’s health. High cholesterol has no symptoms. The only way to find out if your child has high cholesterol is to have your child tested with a simple blood test. High cholesterol is treated with lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and medications. Untreated high cholesterol increases the risk for heart and blood vessel disease, including heart attack and stroke.
A total cholesterol test shows the total amount of cholesterol in your child’s blood. A more detailed test, a lipid profile, includes lipoprotein measurements that are more useful and reflective of your child’s health. Cholesterol travels out from the liver and into the bloodstream on fat and protein carriers called lipoproteins. The two main types are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Most cholesterol is LDL. LDLs transport cholesterol away from the liver and into the bloodstream. LDLs contain more fat than protein. LDLs are more likely to collect on the walls of blood vessels, which can contribute to heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. LDLs are the “bad” cholesterol. To help people remember, the “L” in LDL is commonly referred to as “lousy.” You want your child’s LDL numbers to be low.
HDL cholesterol contains more protein than fat. HDLs carry cholesterol away from arteries and out of the body. High HDL levels can reduce the risk of heart attack. HDLs are the “good” cholesterol. The “H” in HDL is commonly referred to as “healthy.” You want your child’s HDL levels to be high.
Am I at Risk
Is My Child at Risk?
There are risk factors for high cholesterol that your child can and cannot control. Your child can reduce his or her risk for high cholesterol by eliminating the risk factors that he or she can control.
Risk factors for high cholesterol:
_____ Your child cannot control the genes that he or she inherited. Your child’s genes determine how fast his or her body produces and removes LDL.
_____ Some people have familial hypercholesterolemia, a specific form of high cholesterol that is inherited.
_____ Cholesterol levels tend to rise with age. Cholesterol levels tend to rise for men at age 45.
_____ Females tend to experience higher levels of cholesterol after menopause.
_____ Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol.
_____ Smoking can increase cholesterol. People that smoke and have high cholesterol have a greater risk for heart disease and stroke.
_____ Excessive alcohol consumption can raise cholesterol levels.
_____ A sedentary lifestyle or a lack of exercise increases the risk for high cholesterol.
_____ Certain medications, including birth control pills, estrogen, corticosteroids, some diuretics, and beta-blockers, may cause cholesterol levels to rise.
_____ Some medical conditions, such as liver disease, diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, kidney disease, or an underactive thyroid, may contribute to high cholesterol.
_____ Eating food that is high in cholesterol or fat can increase the risk of developing high cholesterol. Foods that come from animals have cholesterol, including meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk—plus products that contain these ingredients. Foods that contain saturated fats and trans fats can raise your cholesterol levels. Fats are most often found in high-cholesterol foods, margarines, baked goods, and processed foods, such as chips, crackers, and snack items.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.