This blood test measures a kind of fat (lipid) called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Your child needs cholesterol to make hormones and to build and keep healthy cells. However, too much harmful blood fat can cause problems that increase your child’s risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke as an adult. HDL, also called good cholesterol, is a type of blood fat that helps the body get rid of other blood fats that are harmful.
Your child’s body makes some cholesterol and gets the rest from foods such as meats, eggs, and milk products.
Tests measuring other types of cholesterol and fats are often done at the same time as the HDL test. Together, these lipid tests are often called a lipid panel. Children and teens should have a cholesterol test between the ages of 9 and 11 years and again between the ages of 17 and 21 years.
The HDL test, as part of a lipid panel, helps check your child’s risk for heart disease or atherosclerosis, which is a hardening, narrowing, or blockage of the arteries.
If you are working to improve your child’s cholesterol levels through your child’s diet and exercise habits or by taking medicine, this test can help show how well treatment is working.
Having this test will take just a few minutes. A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.
Ask your child’s healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your child’s test.
Because HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease, higher numbers are better. HDL levels of 45 mg/dL or higher help to lower your child’s risk for heart disease.
Some of the reasons your child’s HDL level may be low are:
Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history, physical exam, and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about the results and ask questions, such as: