Cholesterol is a tricky part of a healthy diet. We need some cholesterol in our bloodstream to perform certain functions within the body, but when there’s too much of it, it can build up in layers which restricts blood flow and endangers critical organs like your heart and your brain. There aren’t always symptoms of high cholesterol (see: Hypercholesterolemia). People with family histories of high cholesterol might develop fatty bumps called xanthomas, or grey-white rings around their corneas, but the majority will show few or no symptoms at all. So how would you know if you had high cholesterol? And, when should you get a lipid panel (a standard cholesterol test) to find out if your cholesterol is a concern?
Understanding the Risk of High Cholesterol by Age
If you’re wondering what your risk of high cholesterol is by age, that answer depends on a number of factors. If you’re a person under the age of 20 with a healthy diet who gets regular exercise, you more than likely will not be asked to complete a lipid panel more than once every five years. Unless you live an extraordinarily unhealthy lifestyle, you haven’t had enough time to develop the mid-to-long-term negative effects from years of habitual patterns. Based on family history, however, a pediatrician may start monitoring your child’s cholesterol from as young as 9.
Beyond age, it’s difficult to give an answer without patient-specific information. Do you smoke? Do you lean heavily on fatty animal products like butter, whole milk, or red meat? Is your diet high in trans fats? Are you working out regularly — or binge drinking regularly? If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’re probably on the 5-year check-in plan, too.
But if you’re over 45, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) encourages men and women to get their cholesterol checked every 1-2 years.
There are some exceptions that may cause your doctor to test more often: pre-existing conditions can also contribute to high cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, chronic kidney disease, and hypothyroidism (amongst other ailments) can all contribute to cholesterol levels.
Other Important Risk Factors
Those pre-existing conditions aren’t the only factors to consider: simply being born a biological man is a factor, after the age of 55. If you’re overweight or obese, you’re also in a higher risk category. A history of high cholesterol can (you guessed it) put you at risk of developing it again! Prevention is the best course of action. It’s not easy to turn back the clock on cardiovascular health.
Cholesterol Test in Lincoln, CA
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol, you should get in touch with us using the contact form here.
There are also things you can do today to limit your risk of high cholesterol. Increase your daily movement and incorporate an activity that gets your blood pumping. Eliminate smoking, and reduce your alcohol intake and the amount of fried foods in your diet. Even small changes in these areas can reduce your risk of high cholesterol.
High-risk individuals might need supplemental medication as well. You’ll be able to discuss all of your options with one of the medical professionals at Lincoln Urgent Care. We look forward to seeing you!