Cholesterol is a waxy, fatlike substance that can be found in all parts of the body. The cholesterol in your child’s blood comes from two sources:
- from the foods he eats
- produced by his liver
While the body needs cholesterol to aid in the production of cell membranes, some hormones and vitamin D, your child's liver makes sufficient amounts of cholesterol for this. Too much cholesterol may lead to excess being deposited in the arteries, which can lead to heart disease.
Cholesterol and other fats are transported through the blood stream in the form of particles called lipoproteins. The two most common lipoproteins are low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
This type of cholesterol is commonly called "bad" cholesterol. It can contribute to the formation of plaque build up in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. LDL levels should be low.
This type of cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol. It’s a type of fat in the blood that helps to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood, preventing the fatty build up and formation of plaque. HDL should be as high as possible.
Triglycerides are another class of fat found in the bloodstream, and they make up the bulk of your child’s fat tissue. Some studies have shown a link between triglycerides and heart disease. Many children and adolescents with high triglyceride levels also have other risk factors, such as high LDL levels or low HDL levels.