How high should my cholesterol be at my age?

Cholesterol levels vary with age, weight, and gender. Over time, the body tends to produce more cholesterol, which means all adults should check their cholesterol levels regularly, ideally every 4 to 6 years or so.

Cholesterol is measured in three categories:

– total cholesterol
– LDL or “bad cholesterol” and
– HDL or “good cholesterol”.

The difficulty for most people is balancing these rates. While total and LDL cholesterol levels should be kept low, higher HDL cholesterol levels may provide some protection from heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.

cholesterol levels and age

Cholesterol levels tend to rise with age. Doctors recommend taking steps earlier in life to prevent developing dangerously high cholesterol levels as you age. Years of uncontrolled cholesterol levels can be much more difficult to manage. Children have the least high cholesterol levels and should only have their levels checked once or twice before age 18.

However, if the child has risk factors for high cholesterol, they should be monitored more often. In general, men tend to have higher cholesterol levels than women throughout their lives. A man’s cholesterol level generally increases with age. However, women are not immune to high cholesterol. A woman’s cholesterol levels often rise when she goes through menopause.

Recommended cholesterol levels

Healthy cholesterol levels don’t vary much in a typical adult. The variations in recommended rates tend to change based on other health conditions and considerations.

Adult Cholesterol Levels

– A total cholesterol level below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered desirable for adults. A value between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline and a value of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.

– The LDL cholesterol level must be below 100 mg/dL. Levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL are acceptable for people without disease, but may be of greater concern for people with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. A value of 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline and a value of 160 to 189 mg/dL is high. A level of 190 mg/dL or more is considered very high.

– HDL levels must remain high. A value below 40 mg/dL is considered the main risk factor for heart disease. The lower limit is a value between 41 mg/dL and 59 mg/dL. The optimal HDL level is 60 mg/dL or higher.

Cholesterol Levels for Children

In comparison, the acceptable levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in children are different.

– An acceptable total cholesterol level for a child is below 170 mg/dL. A borderline acceptable total cholesterol level for a child is between 170 and 199 mg/dl. Any total cholesterol level above 200 in a child is too high.

– A child’s LDL cholesterol level should also be lower than that of an adult. The optimal LDL cholesterol range for a child is below 110 mg/dL. A borderline value is between 110 and 129 mg/dL, while a high value is above 130 mg/dL.

Tips for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels

The best recommendation for children and adolescents to control their cholesterol levels is a healthy and active lifestyle. This includes a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Sedentary, overweight children whose diets are high in processed foods are most likely to have high cholesterol. Children with a family history of high cholesterol may also be at risk.

In general, the earlier an adult begins a healthy lifestyle, the higher their cholesterol levels will be. Cholesterol builds up over time. A sudden lifestyle change can help, but the older a person is, the less impact their cholesterol levels will have. All adults should stay active and exercise regularly. Postmenopausal women and adults with high cholesterol may consider taking medications that help lower cholesterol faster than diet alone.

High cholesterol at any age increases your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. These risks only increase over time, especially for adults who aren’t taking steps to reduce their cholesterol build-up.

Consultation of a doctor

Children should see a doctor once or twice for cholesterol checks before the age of 18, but not during puberty. If the child comes from a family with a history of heart disease, is overweight, or has other health conditions, the recommendation may change.

Adults over 20 should see a doctor every 4-6 years. This is usually sufficient for adults without health problems. However, people should seek medical help for treatment and measures to lower cholesterol if:

– The results of a cholesterol test show high or near high levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol
– they are overweight
– they have a family history of heart disease.

How to lower your cholesterol levels

There are methods to lower cholesterol and prevent it from rising. One of these is therapeutic lifestyle changes that include diet, exercise, and weight management. Another option is to use drug treatments that lower cholesterol or decrease cholesterol intake.

At any age, a diet low in saturated and trans fat and high in soluble fiber and protein is good for reducing cholesterol build-up.

The TLC Diet is an eating plan that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. People who comply should consume less than 7 percent of calories from saturated fat and less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol from food each day. The TLC diet encourages people to eat the following foods:

fruit
vegetables
full grain
Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
fishes
Skinless poultry
lean meat

In addition, the TLC diet suggests consuming only enough calories to maintain a desirable weight and avoid weight gain. The increased consumption of soluble roughage and foods containing natural substances such as certain margarines can also increase the lipid-lowering power of the diet.

Proper weight control is another key to lowering cholesterol and preventing its accumulation. Overweight people who lose weight can help lower LDL levels.

Weight loss is especially important for people with a group of risk factors, including:

– a high level of triglycerides
– a low HDL level
– overweight men
– overweight women

Regular physical activity for 30 minutes most days is recommended for everyone. It also helps control weight, which helps lower cholesterol levels.

Certain vitamins and supplements like niacin prevent the liver from eliminating HDL and reduce triglycerides.
Omega-3 fatty acids. These acids increase HDL levels and lower triglyceride levels.
The best cholesterol-lowering treatment involves a number of different methods, including lifestyle and diet.

Sources

High blood cholesterol: what you need to know. (2005, June)

LDL and HDL: “bad” and “good” cholesterol. (2015, March 16)

What is cholesterol? (nd)

Your guide to lowering cholesterol with TLC. (2005, December)

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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