Monitoring & Treating

Monitoring and Treating High Cholesterol

Current guidelines recommend screening in kids who are at risk for high cholesterol starting at age 2 but no later than age 10. Screening is recommended for kids who:

  • have a parent with a total cholesterol higher than 240 mg/dL
  • have a family history of cardiovascular disease prior to the age of 55 in men and 65 in women
  • have an unknown family history
  • are overweight or obese
  • have additional risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or cigarette smoking

Your provider can order a simple blood test, usually done fasting (nothing to eat or drink, except water, for 12 hours), to tell you if your child’s cholesterol is too high.

According to the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines for children and adolescents, the ranges of total and LDL cholesterol for kids 2 years to 18 years old are:

Category Total cholesterol (mg/dL) LDL cholesterol, (mg/dL)
Acceptable Less than 170 Less than 110
Borderline 170-199 110-129
High 200 or greater 130 or greater

mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter

Children with LDL cholesterol levels 170 mg/dL or greater should receive individual nutritional counseling that focuses on reducing dietary fat and cholesterol and increasing physical activity.

Kids whose results are acceptable should be screened every 3 to 5 years. Those with borderline cholesterol levels should be rechecked in 1 year.

Kids with high cholesterol levels should be rechecked after 3 to 6 months of lifestyle intervention.

Medication may be considered for kids over 8 years old with LDL cholesterol levels of 190 or higher if changes in diet and exercise haven’t worked. For kids with additional risk factors, treatment may be considered at even lower levels.