As individuals age, their bodies naturally produce more cholesterol. This emphasizes the importance of regularly checking cholesterol levels, ideally every 4 to 6 years. Cholesterol is categorized into three types: total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), and HDL (good cholesterol). While it is important to keep total cholesterol and LDL levels low, higher levels of HDL cholesterol may provide some protection against heart disease and related conditions.
Cholesterol and Age
Maintaining a balance in cholesterol levels early in life is crucial, as managing high cholesterol levels in later years can be challenging. Cholesterol levels tend to increase with age, making it necessary to take preventive measures earlier in life. Failure to control cholesterol levels over the years can lead to more complicated treatment processes. Generally, men tend to have higher cholesterol levels throughout their lives. On the other hand, women are not exempt from high cholesterol levels, as their cholesterol often increases during menopause.
Recommended Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol levels do not fluctuate significantly in the average adult. However, the recommended level ranges may vary due to other health conditions and considerations.
The desirable total cholesterol level for adults is below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). A level between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high, while a level of 240 mg/dL and above is classified as high.
LDL cholesterol levels should ideally be below 100 mg/dL. Levels between 100 and 129 mg/dL are acceptable for individuals without health issues, but may be more concerning for those with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. A level of 130 to 159 mg/dL is considered borderline high, while a level of 160 to 189 mg/dL is classified as high. A value of 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.
HDL levels should be maintained at a higher level. A level below 40 mg/dL is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Levels between 41 mg/dL and 59 mg/dL are classified as low. The optimal reading for HDL levels is 60 mg/dL or higher.
Acceptable levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in children differ from those in adults. An acceptable range of total cholesterol for a child is below 170 mg/dL. A borderline acceptable total cholesterol level for a child falls between 170 and 199 mg/dL. Any total cholesterol value above 200 in a child is considered too high.
A child's LDL cholesterol level should also be lower than that of an adult. The optimal range for LDL cholesterol in children is below 110 mg/dL. The borderline level is 110 to 129 mg/dL, while a level above 130 mg/dL is classified as high.
Tips for Managing Cholesterol Levels
Managing cholesterol levels in both children and adults involves maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical exercise. Leading a healthy and active lifestyle is the best recommendation for managing cholesterol levels.
In children, sedentary behavior and excess weight, coupled with a diet rich in processed foods, increase the likelihood of high cholesterol levels. Children with a family history of hypercholesterolemia may also be at risk.
For adults, maintaining an active lifestyle and following regular exercise programs is crucial. Menopausal women and adults with high cholesterol levels should consider making lifestyle and dietary changes.
Having high cholesterol levels at any age increases the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. These risks only worsen over time, especially for adults who do not take steps to reduce their cholesterol buildup.