Do you know your what your recommended cholesterol level are? Here we take a look at the different components of a lipid test, and the recommended levels for adults and children.
As you get older, it is important to have your cholesterol checked on a regular basis to help monitor your levels, and to assess your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This involves having a lipid (or lipoprotein) profile to examine the cholesterol-related components in the blood.
What Are The Components of My Cholesterol Level?
A lipid profile test assesses the following:
High Density Lipoproteins – HDL is what is known as “good” cholesterol. It is what collects excess cholesterol and transports to the liver to be broken down and removed. The higher this count, the better.
Low Density Lipoproteins – LDL is referred to as “bad” cholesterol. Our body needs it to transport cholesterol from the liver to parts of the body that need it, but an excess of LDL in the bloodstream can lead to a buildup of plaque the arteries. Low LDL levels are what you should be striving for.
Triglycerides – Triglycerides are what make up the fat content of lipoproteins, and high triglyceride levels in your body can contribute to the buildup of plaque and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. These levels should be lower.
Total Cholesterol – Your total cholesterol level is the overall amount of cholesterol found in your blood. It consists of a composite reading of your LDL, HDL, and 20 percent of triglycerides.
Read more about the difference between HDL and LDL here.
Recommended Cholesterol Levels For Adults
Heart foundations around the world recommend that all adults have their cholesterol levels read every four to six years from the age of 20; this is when cholesterol levels tend to begin rising.
As we age, cholesterol levels tend to rise, so as you get older, it is recommended that you get checked more frequently, especially if you present risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or obesity.
High cholesterol is more prevalent in men. However, the risk tends to increase in women after menopause. Let’s take a look at the recommended cholesterol levels for adults.
In a 2013 health survey on cholesterol, the Australian Bureau of Statistics defined high cholesterol in adults as:
Total cholesterol – Greater than or equal to 5.5 mmol/L.
HDL – Generally speaking, the higher this number the better. Less than 1.0 mmol/L for men and less than 1.3 mmol/L for women is considered abnormal. People looking to keep their cholesterol low should aim for HDL levels of 1.0 mmol/L or more.
LDL – Generally speaking, the lower this number the better. LDL cholesterol greater than or equal to 3.5 mmol/L is considered abnormal. People looking to keep their cholesterol low should aim for LDL levels to be lower than 2.0 mmol/L.
Triglycerides – Your triglyceride levels should be below 2.0 mmol/L.
Recommended Cholesterol Levels For Children and Adolescents
Children and adolescents are at a lower risk of having high cholesterol than adults. Especially kids that are physically active, aren’t overweight, consume a healthy, balanced diet, and don’t have a family history of high cholesterol.
Some guidelines recommend that children have their cholesterol checked once between the age of 9 and 12, and once again between 17 and 21. Children who have a family history of high cholesterol should be checked more regularly.
According to the American NIH, these are the recommended cholesterol levels for children and adolescents.
Total cholesterol – Greater than or equal to 5.2 mmol/L is considered high. 4.4 mmol/L or lower is considered good.
HDL – Again the higher the better. Anything below 1 mmol/L is considered low, and anything above 1.2 mmol/L is considered good.
LDL – Again, the lower this number the better. Levels greater than 3.6 mmol/L are considered high. Levels below 2.8 mmol/L are considered good.
Triglycerides – Triglyceride levels should be below 1.1 mmol/L in children younger than nine, and below 1.4 mmol/L in children between the ages of 10 and 19.
Keeping on top of your cholesterol levels is very important as you get older in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is also important to make sure your cholesterol levels aren’t too low. We hope this guide helps you on your way to a low reading!
References avaliable on request.