We do not like to link our children with heart disease or having high cholesterol but that is the sad truth today. Many children are now being seen that are at high risk for premature coronary heart disease and some of these children have high cholesterol levels much earlier in life than previously experienced. As a general rule, healthcare providers did not routinely check children’s cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association states that there is sound research backing the idea that cholesterol buildup in the arteries begins in childhood. Buildup of cholesterol in the arteries leading to the heart can result in an early heart attack and cholesterol buildup in the arteries leading to the brain can result in stroke.
Childhood is in most physicians’ minds, the perfect time to intervene with lifestyle changes that will provide a lifetime of healthier habits leading to healthy lives.
The children most at risk are those who are overweight and/or have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease.
More: Best Cholesterol Meters
The American Heart Association has a scientific position that, “elevated cholesterol levels early in life may play a role in the development of adult atherosclerosis and that lowering levels in children and adolescents may be beneficial”.
Kids absorb dietary cholesterol from eating animal food such as egg yolks, meat, poultry, seafood, and whole-milk dairy products that include milk, ice cream and cheese.
There are contributing factors when it comes to kids and cholesterol risk:
* Their diet that may contain fats, especially saturated fats, an abundance of baked goods and commercial snack products
* A family history of parents who have high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol
* Kids who are obese by medical standards and who lack adequate amounts of active exercise
* Kids and teens are at an increased risk for cholesterol factors for increased heart disease risk when they participate in smoking, have high blood pressure or contract diabetes mellitus
Should you have a child that is active, has a healthy diet that doesn’t consist of eating an abundance of baked goods or snack items, and does not have a parental history of risky cholesterol levels and is not overweight; than you have little to worry about regarding cholesterol levels and early heart disease.
Children 2 years of age and older who have known risk factors for being at risk for cholesterol or heart disease contributing factors should be screened for cholesterol blood levels.
Children 2 years of age and older who have one or more of the following risk factors fall into the category of those who should have cholesterol screenings:
* Has at least one parent with a total cholesterol blood level of 240 mg/dL or higher
* Has a parent or grandparent with a history of early heart disease (before age 55)
* If there is any family history that is “unknown”
* The child is overweight or is clinically obese
A simple blood test can determine what your child’s cholesterol levels are. Your child’s doctor should test for total cholesterol blood levels.
The acceptable total cholesterol level for children ages 2 – 19 are less than 170 mg/dL. Borderline total cholesterol levels are from 170 – 199 mg/dL. High levels are those that are 200 mg/dL or higher.