Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that the body needs to build cell walls, make hormones and process fats. It is carried through the body inside lipoprotein molecules.
LDL cholesterol: Too much of it is considered bad because it is a major component of the plaque that can form inside arterial walls, causing the arteries to narrow. High LDL levels are associated with heart disease.
HDL cholesterol: A lot of It is considered good because it is needed to get rid of excess cholesterol. Low HDL levels are also associated with heart disease.
Triglycerides: are the other lipoprotein that is routinely measured in evaluating heart disease risks. Triglycerides are used by the muscles for energy and are stored as fat for later use. High levels in the blood are associated with increased risk for heart disease.
In a healthy bloodstream, the various types of cholesterol and triglycerides flow through the blood vessels without causing plaque to build-up.
Trouble occurs when cholesterol combines with other substances in the bloodstream to form plaque on blood vessel walls. Consisting of a fatty core topped by a fibrous cap, plaque thickens arterial walls, narrowing the inner channel and decreasing blood flow. The plaque can rupture, forming blood clots that can block the vessel entirely.
When the arteries of the heart become clogged by plaque (atheroscerosis), blood can no longer carry enough oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscles. Some of this muscle tissue dies as a result. This is what happens with a heart attack. If major branches become blocked (left anterior descending, left main coronary artery, right coronary artery, left circumflex artery), a more serious heart attack can occur.
When plaque blocks arteries leading to the brain, the brain may be deprived of oxygen, causing damage to brain tissue. This is called a stroke.
Cholesterol enters the bloodstream in two ways. Some of it is absorbed from the stomach as we digest foods that are high in saturated fats. The liver, which has a role in eliminating cholesterol, also makes cholesterol.
Diet and exercise are important in controlling levels of good and bad cholesterol. High fat diets and decreased exercise can elevate cholesterol levels.
Parents with high cholesterol levels may pass a gene to their children that will cause elevated cholesterol levels in their children.
What Is A Normal Cholesterol?
The desirable, borderline, and high levels of lipids in your bloodstream are shown below. All figures are in mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood).
Facts About Cholesterol
Treatment Of Elevated Cholesterol In Children
The purpose for checking cholesterol levels in children is to determine those children who may be at a higher risk for heart disease in the future. A high cholesterol as a child is not an immediate problem. Formation of cholesterol plaques begins during childhood and usually does not cause significant narrowing of the blood vessels until adulthood. The following is recommended for children found to have elevated cholesterol levels: