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Having high levels of cholesterol can cause several health problems. Too much cholesterol can cause blocking in blood vessels, which may cause someone to have a stroke or experience heart problems. By keeping a healthy diet and taking regular exercise, many people can lower their cholesterol if it is too high, while some may need to take medicine for the condition.
What causes high cholesterol?
High cholesterol can be caused by lifestyle factors, like eating fatty foods or not exercising enough.
Being overweight, drinking alcohol and smoking can cause high cholesterol too.
In some cases, high cholesterol can also run in families.
What can cholesterol tests find out?
Cholesterol tests can measure total cholesterol, good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (called LDL or non-HDL), and triglycerides, which are fatty substances similar to bad cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol helps to clear out cholesterol from the arteries, but LDL cholesterol can cause clogging in arteries.
Cholesterol tests can be carried out at GP surgeries and some pharmacies and will normally involve either a finger prick test or a small blood sample being taken for tests.
As high cholesterol is usually symptomless, cholesterol charity Heart UK recommends all adults go for a cholesterol test to check their levels.
What should cholesterol levels be by age?
In terms of age, healthy levels of cholesterol don’t vary much for most adults, according to MedicalNewsToday.
However, in some cases the cholesterol levels someone should aim for might be different to another person due to factors like health conditions.
Speaking to a doctor can help give a clearer indication of what someone should aim for with their cholesterol levels.
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See the chart above for a general cholesterol levels guide for healthy adults, as per the Heart UK charity’s website.
For children, cholesterol level guides are slightly different from adult levels.
According to Healthline, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggest cholesterol levels for children are as follows (in mg/dL):
- Total cholesterol – 170 or less
- HDL cholesterol – Greater than 45
- LDL cholesterol – Less than 110
- Triglycerides – Less than 75 in children 0–9; less than 90 in children 10–19
- Total cholesterol – 170–199
- HDL cholesterol – 40-45
- LDL cholesterol – 110–129
- Triglycerides – 75-99 in children 0–9; 90–129 in children 10–19
- Total cholesterol – 200 or higher
- HDL cholesterol – n/a
- LDL cholesterol – 130 or higher
- Triglycerides – 100 or more in children 0–9; 130 or more in children 10–19
- Total cholesterol – n/a
- HDL cholesterol – Less than 40
- LDL cholesterol – n/a
- Triglycerides n/a
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