As more children are diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, experts are recommending cholesterol checks for young adults and even toddlers. “Having an elevated cholesterol level is a major risk factor for developing heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease,” said UTMB’s Dr. Nicola Abate. “Cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of disability in the country, and it’s almost completely preventable,” Abate said. Risk factors depend on your health and family illness history, said UTMB’s Dr. Tricia Elliott.