Cholesterol levels vary by age, weight, and gender. Over time, the human body tends to produce more cholesterol, which means that all adults should check their cholesterol levels regularly, preferably every 4 to 6 years or so.
Cholesterol is measured in three categories:
– total cholesterol
LDL, or “bad cholesterol.”
HDL, or “good cholesterol.”
For most people, the struggle is balancing these levels. While levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol must be kept low, higher levels of HDL cholesterol may offer some protection against heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes.
Cholesterol and age
It is important to balance cholesterol early in life because unmanaged cholesterol in old age is difficult to treat.
Cholesterol levels tend to increase with age. Doctors recommend taking action early in life to prevent dangerously high cholesterol levels from developing with age. Dealing with years of uncontrolled cholesterol can be even more difficult. Children are least likely to have high cholesterol and only need to have their levels checked once or twice before they turn 18. However, if a child has risk factors for high cholesterol, they should be checked frequently.
In general, men tend to have higher cholesterol levels throughout their lives than women. A man’s cholesterol level generally increases with age. However, women are not immune to high cholesterol. A woman’s cholesterol often rises as she enters menopause.
Recommended cholesterol levels
Cholesterol levels are not much different in the average adult. The difference in recommended levels tends to change due to other health conditions and considerations.
A total cholesterol level of less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered desirable for adults. A level between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a level of 240 mg/dL and above is considered elevated.
Your LDL cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL are acceptable for people without medical conditions. But it may be of greater concern for people with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. Level 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline acceptable and a level of 160 to 189 mg/dL is elevated. A value of 190 mg/dL or more is considered too high.
HDL levels should remain higher. A level below 40 mg/dL is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. A value between 41 mg/dL and 59 mg/dL is considered a low limit. The optimal reading for HDL levels is 60 mg/dL or higher.
In comparison, acceptable levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol differ in children.
The acceptable range for a child’s total cholesterol is less than 170 mg/dL. The acceptable total cholesterol level for a child is between 170 and 199 mg/dL. Any total cholesterol value above 200 in a child is too high.
The level of harmful cholesterol in children should also be lower than the level of cholesterol in adults. The optimal range for children’s LDL cholesterol is less than 110 mg/dL. The threshold range is 110 to 129 mg/dL while the high rate is greater than 130 mg/dL.
Tips to control cholesterol levels
For children and adults, a healthy diet and regular exercise help keep cholesterol levels under control. The best recommendation for controlling cholesterol levels is to follow a healthy and active lifestyle. This includes a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.
Sedentary and overweight children who eat a diet rich in processed foods are more likely to have high cholesterol. Children with a family history of high cholesterol may also be at risk.
All adults should remain active and follow regular exercise programs. Postmenopausal women and adults with high cholesterol may consider changing their lifestyle and diet.
High cholesterol at any age puts a person at risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. These risks only increase over time. Especially for adults who don’t take steps to reduce their cholesterol buildup.
* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.
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