Managing Senior Cholesterol
Keeping an eye on cholesterol to ensure it is at an acceptable level for the body is critical for overall health and wellbeing. For this reason, it is profoundly important that seniors and those who care for them be aware of the cholesterol-related concerns that exist. This helps when implementing healthy lifestyle practices that aim to prevent the development of health issues, and manage any concerns that may already exist.
Cholesterol: The Basics
Cholesterol is a substance produced by the liver that also exists within certain foods. It is a fat-like waxy substance that travels through the bloodstream and is involved in a variety of bodily functions.
There are two different types of cholesterol:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
This type of cholesterol assists the body by taking part in the prevention of heart attack and stroke. HDL cholesterol helps remove other more harmful types of cholesterol from the bloodstream making it the “good” cholesterol type. It delivers excess cholesterol to the liver to be broken down and removed from the body.
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
This type of cholesterol is the primary source of the high levels of cholesterol that can negatively impact the body. It is known as the “bad” cholesterol because it can accumulate in the arteries and blood vessels resulting in blockages that may lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Where does cholesterol come from?
About 75% of cholesterol in the blood is made by the liver to perform specific functions, while the last 25% comes into the body through food (primarily from animal products).
Seeking Professional Advice
Many of the symptoms associated with high cholesterol are not outwardly detectable. Symptoms that tend to accompany high cholesterol often do not directly interfere with the capacity to engage in daily routines and activities and therefore may go unnoticed. This means that seniors with high cholesterol might not be made aware of the problem until a healthcare professional performs a blood test and identifies the issue.
It is particularly important for seniors to have cholesterol levels checked on a routine basis because they tend to rise with age. When high cholesterol has been identified, doctors can prescribe medication when necessary and can recommend lifestyle changes to help seniors manage any associated symptoms and complications.
Keeping Cholesterol in Check
To keep up a good level of cardiovascular health, seniors should be working towards maintaining healthy cholesterol to prevent it from becoming too high. The following are some behavioural and lifestyle habits to help manage cholesterol levels and stay on the right track.
- Physical Activity: Weight management is an important part of keeping cholesterol levels in check, and the combination of physical activity with a healthy diet can help the body in many ways. Regular exercise has the ability to increase HDL levels and, in turn, decrease levels of LDL in the body. Whatever form of physical activity or movement feels comfortable and accessible can make a significant difference.
- Healthy Diet: Fruits and veggies have large amounts of soluble fiber which can help lower cholesterol, and plant foods are also low in saturated fat so they will help keep LDL within the healthy range.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking is harmful to the body in a whole host of ways, but it can have a particularly detrimental effect on the cardiovascular system. Smoking tobacco should be given up entirely to maintain good blood circulation and cardiovascular health.
- Eat the Right Fats: Trans fats are often added to store-bought foods to lengthen their longevity, but these fats are terrible for the body and should be avoided at all costs. Saturated fats come from animal products and can negatively impact heart-health, so it is best to moderate consumption of animal-based and packaged foods to make sure they are eaten in healthy amounts. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats on the other hand can contribute to the lowering of LDL, and these fats can be found in sources such as avocados, soybeans, nuts, and seeds.
By incorporating purposeful and healthy lifestyle practices into daily living, seniors can work towards healthy cholesterol management. Seniors in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge should meet with a healthcare professional on a regular basis to check in and make sure that cholesterol levels are within the healthy range, as well as to talk through options and recommendations should any issues come to light.