Cholesterol is a natural substance the body makes on its own. Among its benefits, it helps cells make hormones and digest food. In addition to the cholesterol your body naturally manufactures, you can also consume cholesterol in eggs, meat, and other foods.
Cholesterol levels can be a source of stress for seniors. Proper medical check-ups and ongoing monitoring are important factors in maintaining good health. Approximately 37% of U.S. adults have a higher than recommended LDL cholesterol level. This is a strong factor which increases the risk of heart disease or stroke.
There are three types of cholesterol:
• High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
• Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
• TriglyceridesHDL is “good” cholesterol because its function is basically to clear out LDL cholesterol, which can cause plaque build-up in the arteries. Triglycerides can also cause harmful build up affecting the heart. When doctors give patients their “cholesterol level” findings, high HDL numbers are encouraging. High LDL and/or triglyceride numbers are not so good. This is commonly called “high cholesterol”, and it can increase risk of heart disease.
Many elders tend to be at an elevated risk of heart disease simply because of the aging process. When a senior also has high cholesterol, their heart disease risk increases. It is important for seniors to manage their cholesterol levels in order to keep arteries clear and functional.
How best to manage cholesterol?
— Medication: There are some medications that can help lower bad cholesterol levels and increase HDL. The most common medications for this are called statins.
— Dietary Changes: Since cholesterol levels can be affected by what you eat, seniors with high LDL or triglycerides levels should avoid unhealthy fats; eat healthier fats; get plenty of fiber; reduce sugar intake; and maintain a healthy weight.
— Exercise Regularly: The body can manage conditions like high cholesterol better if you are physically active. Exercise stimulates many important natural processes, including blood circulation. Simply taking a walk is a great start to a regular exercise and fitness habit.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164