ADOLESCENT MEDICINE :: Healthy Lifestyles
Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides
Facts about cholesterol:
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can be found in all parts of your adolescent's body. It aids in the production of cell membranes, some hormones, and vitamin D. The cholesterol in blood comes from two sources: the foods your adolescent eats and his/her liver. However, your child's liver makes all of the cholesterol your adolescent's body needs.
Cholesterol and other fats are transported through the blood stream in the form of round particles called lipoproteins. The two most commonly known lipoproteins are low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
Checking blood cholesterol levels:
A cholesterol screening is an overall look at, or profile of, the fats in the blood. Physicians in the past felt that children and adolescents were at little risk for developing high cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart diseases affecting the coronary arteries and blood vessels until later in life. However, many physicians now realize that children and adolescents are increasingly at risk for having high blood cholesterol levels as a result of one, or more of the following:
Children and adolescents with high cholesterol are at higher risk for developing heart disease as adults. Many physicians are recognizing that keeping blood cholesterol levels in normal ranges throughout one's lifetime may be of great benefit in reducing the likelihood of developing coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.
Cholesterol testing for children:
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health, recommends that cholesterol testing begin at age 2 for any child who has the following:
The NHLBI also recommends that children and adolescents who have demonstrated risk factors, such as obesity, should have cholesterol and other lipids tested periodically by their physicians.
A full lipid profile shows the actual levels of each type of fat in the blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others. Consult your adolescent's physician regarding the timeliness of this test.
What is a healthy blood cholesterol level?
Blood cholesterol is very specific to each individual. A full lipid profile can be an important part of your adolescent's medical history and important information for your adolescent's physician to have. In general, healthy levels are as follows:
The NHLBI recommends the following guidelines for cholesterol levels in children and teenagers (ages 2 to 19) from families with high blood cholesterol or early heart disease:
Statistics about cholesterol:
Elevated cholesterol is a risk for many Americans. Consider these statistics:
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are another class of fat found in the bloodstream. The bulk of your adolescent's body fat tissue is in the form of triglycerides.
The link between triglycerides and heart disease is under clinical investigation. However, many children and adolescents with high triglyceride levels also have other risk factors such as high LDL levels or low HDL levels.
What causes elevated triglyceride levels?
Elevated triglyceride levels may be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, or liver disease. Dietary causes of elevated triglyceride levels may include obesity and high intakes of fat, alcohol, and concentrated sweets.
A healthy triglyceride level is less than 150 mg.
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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.
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