Why Does High Cholesterol Appear In Children?

Among the diseases that can be diagnosed in pediatric consultations is hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol in children. Many factors influence the appearance of high levels of this substance. Therefore, it is necessary to assess what its possible triggers are. 

Do you have children at home? Are you worried that they are at risk of suffering the effects of high cholesterol? If so, read on to learn about its main causes and some basic tips for its treatment.

What is high cholesterol in children?

Cholesterol is a substance that the body needs to create vitamins, hormones, and other substances necessary for digestion. But an excess in its levels can cause complications in the walls of the vascular system and health risks.

High cholesterol in children

We can find different types of cholesterol in the blood, commonly known as “bad cholesterol” and “good cholesterol”. Both values ​​must be in specific ranges to ensure the proper functioning of the metabolism.

Adults are frequently informed in the consultations of health professionals about the importance of controlling our diets and monitoring cholesterol; however, the possibility of high cholesterol levels in children is rarely explained to us.

Causes of high cholesterol levels in children

Most cases of high cholesterol levels in children are associated with the following factors:

  • Family history of high cholesterol. It can be associated with mutations in chromosomes, directly related to the genetic component. This is evidenced by a study published in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. It is quite common because it is a dominant genetic disease, that means that it is transmitted very easily from one generation to another.
  • Bad eating habits. A diet with ingestion of prepared foods, industrial pastries, fried foods or any source of harmful fats. This type of diet favors the appearance of high cholesterol levels in both adults and children. The intake of trans fats, for example, has been shown to be capable of increasing inflammation and altering the lipid profile.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Not performing adequate physical activity and promoting a sedentary life in children, favors obesity and also increases cholesterol levels.

Diagnosis of high cholesterol in children

High cholesterol in children does not usually present with symptoms associated with the condition. This gives it the name of silent disease, since the levels can be high and not present any symptoms that make you suspect about it.

The way to detect high cholesterol levels in children is through a blood test. Your pediatrician will be able to guide you when it is advisable to carry out a blood test in your child.

Doctor holding a tube of blood with the inscription "cholesterol test"

In order to choose the right time for the blood test, the doctor will assess the family history and eating habits. For the assessment to be correct, it is advisable to give exact data and complete information to the doctor. 

Guidelines to follow with children who have a family history of high cholesterol:

  • Early diagnosis by blood study from 2 years of age and before 10.
  • Follow-up in children with LDL cholesterol values ​​greater than 190 mg / dl, or greater than 150 mgr / dl with genetic involvement in the family.

Treatment to lower cholesterol in the family

The basic pillar for a good treatment of high cholesterol in children is the diet of the whole family. For this it is important that parents or guardians are adequately trained in what are the most recommended foods.

Changing unhealthy lifestyle habits for more recommended ones favors the decrease in cholesterol levels. This must be done by all family members. Let’s see in which aspects it would be good to improve behaviors:

Take care of the diet

Heart with healthy food

  • Above all, watch your fat intake. Their contribution should come more from fish and olive oil. 
  • Avoid industrial pastries and precooked foods.
  • Have a good supply of fiber and accompany it with plenty of water. Fiber is found in whole grains, some fruits, and legumes.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. They contain plant sterols that help lower cholesterol.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. The recommendations are two alcoholic drinks a day for men and one alcoholic drink for women.

    Practice physical exercise daily

    • Strong intensity physical activity is not required, but it is frequent. The best activity is the one that favors the heart system and for this, 30 minutes a day of walking, stationary or elliptical bike is enough.
    • Exercise has been shown to be able to lower cholesterol, as well as the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

    Take care of habits to control cholesterol

    It is very important to monitor the child’s cholesterol values ​​after changing lifestyle habits. In the consultations with the pediatrician, it will be analyzed whether or not it is necessary to provide drug treatment to the child.

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