High cholesterol is one of the many health challenges seniors face in their golden years. Left unchecked, high cholesterol can lead to heart problems. As this condition presents no symptoms, it’s important for seniors to get tested regularly as recommended by their doctor. If diagnosed with high cholesterol, seniors should take immediate action to lower their cholesterol levels. Understanding the dangers of high cholesterol will enable seniors to make wise decisions in preserving their health.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance produced by the body that’s present in all body cells. It serves to produce vitamin D and enzymes and hormones that aid the digestive process. Although cholesterol is made by your body, you can also get it from the foods you eat. Normal cholesterol levels pose no threat to your health. High concentrations of cholesterol in your blood can clog your arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack.
Cholesterol is transported throughout the body by lipoproteins of which there are two types. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered “good” cholesterol and is harmless. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered “bad” cholesterol and can cause all kinds of health problems.
Causes of High Cholesterol
There are various causes of high cholesterol ranging from genetics to an unhealthy diet. Most high cholesterol problems, however, can be attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle, i.e., bad dietary habits, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, etc.
A diet that’s rich in saturated fats and trans fat can substantially raise your LDL cholesterol levels, putting you at risk of heart problems. When eaten in excess, such foods as fatty meats, deep-fried foods, processed foods, dairy products, saturated vegetable oils, chips, crackers and baked goods (pastries, cakes, cookies) can cause high cholesterol problems.
In contrast, healthy foods like whole grains, nuts, natural oils (canola, sunflower), fruits, fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna) and soy-based products will not only lower your cholesterol but improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Lack of exercise can lead to a hike in LDL cholesterol levels. Regular exercise can help counter high cholesterol and keep you healthier longer.
Smoking can contribute to high cholesterol in addition to other health problems. If your health is important to you, there’s no time like the present to kick your smoking habit.
Certain medical conditions, i.e., diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and an underactive thyroid, can cause high cholesterol problems. In some cases, high cholesterol can also be hereditary.
How to Combat High Cholesterol
The good news is that most people can control their cholesterol levels by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, getting regular exercise, kicking the smoking habit and losing excess weight. A healthy lifestyle can help seniors enjoy their golden years to the full with fewer health problems. Seniors can also consult their doctor for medications to help reduce LDL cholesterol, if necessary.
At Sunny Days In-Home Care, we can help you maintain a healthier lifestyle to reduce the risk of developing cholesterol problems. To learn more about our professional in-home senior care services, call 724-260-5186 today.