Mayo Clinic: My grandson is 11 and already has high
cholesterol. He does not eat a lot of junk food and plays many
sports, but we do have high cholesterol in our family. Could
this be hereditary, and, if so, is it common to show up in
such a young person?
cholesterol certainly can be genetic, and it may show up at an
early age in some people. Although your grandson canít do
anything about his genetics, he can make lifestyle choices to
help manage his cholesterol. If that isnít enough, then
medication to help control cholesterol may be an option, too.
is a waxy substance found within the fats, or lipids, in
blood. Cholesterol is carried through the blood attached to
proteins. This combination of proteins and cholesterol is
called a lipoprotein. You may have heard of different kinds of
cholesterol. They are based on what type of cholesterol the
lipoprotein carries. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is
sometimes called bad cholesterol. It transports cholesterol
particles throughout the body. LDL cholesterol builds up on
the walls of the arteries, making them hard and narrow.
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is considered good
cholesterol. It picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back
to the liver.
the body needs some cholesterol to build healthy cells, having
too much cholesterol can raise a personís risk for heart
disease. High cholesterol, particularly high levels of LDL,
can lead to the development of fatty deposits in blood
vessels. Eventually, these deposits can make it hard for blood
to flow through the arteries. When that happens, the heart may
not get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs. That raises the
risk of a heart attack. If blood flow to the brain is reduced,
that can cause a stroke.
cholesterol does have a tendency to run in families, and
genetics play a role in a personís risk for developing high
cholesterol. For example, genetic makeup may keep cells from
effectively removing LDL cholesterol from the blood or cause
the liver to produce too much cholesterol.
young person, such as your grandson, has high cholesterol, the
first steps to help control cholesterol usually involve
lifestyle changes. Getting regular exercise and staying at a
healthy weight both can go a long way to managing cholesterol
levels. It sounds like your grandson is already active in
sports. He should continue those activities, with a goal of
getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. He also should
limit the amount of time he spends in front of computers,
tablets, televisions and phones.
healthy diet is also important for cholesterol control.
Working with a dietitian can be very useful for families who
have children dealing with high cholesterol. A dietitian can
assess your grandsonís eating habits and recommend changes,
such as avoiding processed foods that contain large amounts of
saturated fats and sugars, for example. The dietitian also can
offer ideas for healthy food choices and recipes for the
cases, lifestyle changes may not be enough to keep cholesterol
in check, and medication is necessary to bring cholesterol
down to a healthy level. It is important to lower high
cholesterol in children, because, if left untreated, high
cholesterol eventually can lead to narrowed and hardened
arteries, increasing the risk of serious health problems later