High cholesterol is a condition that can affect both adults and children. It results in many health problems, especially heart problems, as the child gets older. The build-up of plaque on the walls of the arteries, which supply blood to the heart and other organs, is the consequence of too much cholesterol. Plaque is considered to be one of the most common factors responsible for the narrowing of the arteries and block the blood flow to the heart, causing heart problems and stroke.
Who is at risk of childhood high cholesterol?
It is found that the level of cholesterol in a child’s blood can be associated with three risk factors which are genetics, diet, and obesity. Children whose parents have high cholesterol often suffer the same condition.
How can high cholesterol in children be diagnosed?
Health care providers are capable of checking cholesterol in school-age children with a simple blood test. Conducting a test is especially necessary if there is a strong family history of heart disease or if a parent of the child has high cholesterol. Additionally, the blood test results will help doctors detect whether a child’s cholesterol is too high. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all kids should be screened twice in their childhood between ages 9 and 11 and between ages 17 and 21. Scientists advise that children after age 2 but no later than age 10 be screened. In case the fasting lipid profile is normal, three to five years later, the child should be screened again.
How to treat high cholesterol in children?
With kids who are overweight or obese and have a high blood-fat level or low level of “good” cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, weight management is believed as the primary treatment. This means parents should encourage these children to have a good diet as well as do exercise regularly. For kids over 10 years old with extremely high cholesterol levels, medication should be considered.
One of the best ways to treat high cholesterol in children is a healthy diet and proper exercise program that involves the entire family. Your kids should eat low-fat foods instead of fast food. The amount of total fat a child consumes should account for 30% or less of daily total calories. However, this suggestion does not apply to children who are under 2 years old. Additionally, saturated fat should only take up to less than 10% of daily total calories while trans fat should be totally avoided. For children who are in the high-risk group, saturated fat should be restricted to 7% of total calories and dietary cholesterol to 200 milligrams a day.
Secondly, selecting a variety of foods is also very important so your child can get all the nutrients he or she needs. In addition, do not forget to do exercise regularly. Some regular aerobic exercises such as biking, running, walking, and swimming, can help raise HDL levels and lower your child’s risk of heart disease. In case diet and exercise alone don’t help with your child’s high cholesterol level, medication may be required (cholesterol-lowering statin drugs).
You might also want to read:
- High Cholesterol: 9 Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- 4 myths about cholesterol you didn’t know
- All You Need to Know about Cholesterol in Your Child’s Diet
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.