Levels of cholesterol that are unbalanced or unhealthy can have a significant and damaging impact upon seniors’ health.
For this reason it is incredibly important that seniors and those who help to provide their care remain aware and attuned to the issues that exist regarding cholesterol so that they can work towards preventing the development of problems, or can better manage any problems that have already taken root.
Cholesterol: The Basics
Cholesterol is a substance made by the liver that is also present within certain foods. It is a fat-like or waxy substance that travels through the bloodstream and plays its own important role in the functioning of the body. There are two different forms of cholesterol, High-density lipoprotein (HDL) and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The former helps the body by taking part in the prevention of heart attack and stroke, while the latter is the primary source of the high levels of cholesterol that can negatively impact the body. For these reasons, the two are known as “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol” respectively. It is also important to note that approximately 75% of cholesterol in the blood is made by the liver to perform particular functions, while the last 25% comes into the body through food (primarily from animal products).
Talk to a Doctor
The fact that not many noticeable symptoms tend to come along with high cholesterol that interfere with people’s ability to live their lives means that seniors with high cholesterol might not become aware of the problem until a healthcare professional performs a blood test and identifies the issue. It is especially important that seniors get their cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis, because cholesterol levels have a tendency to rise with age. When high cholesterol has been detected, doctors can prescribe medication when necessary, and can help to recommend lifestyle changes that can help seniors manage the problem.
Keeping Cholesterol in Check
In an attempt to maintain healthy function of the cardiovascular system, seniors must work towards keeping healthy levels of cholesterol or lowering it if it has become too high. The following are some lifestyle habits and behaviours that can help to manage cholesterol levels and keep them on track:
- Quit Smoking: Smoking is harmful for the body in a whole host of ways, but can have a huge impact on the cardiovascular system, so it is important to cease smoking to keep the heart and circulation going as they should.
- Incorporate Physical Activity: Weight management is a valuable aspect 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 also has the ability to increase HDL levels and, in turn, decrease levels of LDL. Whatever form of physical activity or movement feels comfortable and accessible can make a meaningful difference.
- Eat the Right Fats: Trans fats are often added to store-bought foods to lengthen their longevity, but these fats can be damaging to the body if consumed regularly. 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 moderation. 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.
- Eat Fruits and Veggies: Fruits and veggies have large amounts of soluble fiber which can help to lower cholesterol, and plant foods are also low in saturated fat so they will help keep LDL within the healthy range.
By implementing purposeful strategies and making intentional choices, seniors can work towards managing their cholesterol in a healthy way. Seniors in Ottawa should meet with a healthcare professional on a routine basis to make sure their levels are within the healthy range, and to discuss options should concerns arise.