Consumer Health: High cholesterol in children

a young white girl with blonde braids holding sprinkle covered donuts over her eyes and smiling

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, too much can increase your risk of heart disease.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends a cholesterol screening test for most children between 9 and 11, followed by repeat screening every five years. For children with a family history of high blood cholesterol, screening may start as early as 2. It’s important to detect and reduce high cholesterol in children because the condition can lead to narrowed and hardened arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease later in life.

High cholesterol can be inherited, but it’s often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. That makes it preventable and treatable. The first treatment approach for high cholesterol in children involves lifestyle changes that can benefit the entire family: Lose weight, eat healthy foods and exercise more.

Learn more about what to do if your child has been diagnosed with high cholesterol from Dr. M. Regina Castro, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist.

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