Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels becomes increasingly important as we age. Our blood contains a fatty substance known as cholesterol, which performs crucial functions for our body’s regular operations.
Nevertheless, elevated cholesterol levels may trigger several health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. In this article, we will examine the impact of cholesterol on one’s health and provide effective methods for senior citizens to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Seniors should keep total cholesterol below 200 and their LDL cholesterol around 100. If your LDL cholesterol level is above 160, you must start making sweeping lifestyle changes.
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According to studies, cholesterol levels tend to rise as we age. This rise is due in part to changes in hormones and metabolic function.
Our bodies produce fewer hormones that help regulate cholesterol levels, such as estrogen and testosterone. Therefore, we become less efficient at metabolising cholesterol, resulting in higher levels in the bloodstream.
Impact of High Cholesterol Levels on The Body
High cholesterol levels can cause the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This buildup can obstruct blood flow to the heart and other organs, resulting in various health issues.
The following are some of the prevalent health concerns linked to elevated cholesterol levels:
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease is the foremost cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly one in every four deaths. About 18.2 million adults in the United States have coronary artery disease, which is frequently induced by the buildup of cholesterol and other substances in the arteries, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
High cholesterol levels are a significant risk factor for heart disease. People with high cholesterol are approximately twice as prone to develop heart disease as individuals with normal cholesterol levels, as reported by the American Heart Association.
Stroke is the primary cause of mortality and disability worldwide. One report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that a stroke occurs every 40 seconds in the United States, and a stroke-related death occurs every four minutes. The American Stroke Association has highlighted that high cholesterol is a notable risk factor for stroke. Individuals with elevated cholesterol levels are more susceptible to a stroke than those with normal cholesterol levels.
3. Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is when the arteries supplying blood to the legs and feet narrow or become blocked, reducing blood flow to these areas. The CDC estimates that approximately 6.5 million adults in the United States have PAD. Additionally, PAD is a condition where high cholesterol poses a significant risk factor.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggested that people with high cholesterol are more likely to develop PAD than those with normal cholesterol levels.
Best Ways To Maintain Cholesterol Levels
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is critical for lowering the risk of various health problems. Below are some effective approaches to maintaining stable cholesterol levels:
Diet Recommendations For Older Adults
- Saturated and trans fats, found in foods such as butter, full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, and baked goods made with hydrogenated oils, should be avoided or limited.
- Avoiding processed and sugary foods like candy, cookies, chips, and other snack foods is advised.
- High-fibre foods, such as oats, beans, fruits, and vegetables, can help lower cholesterol levels by removing cholesterol from the body.
- Consume healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon to lower LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol.
Exercise And Physical Activity
- Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic weekly exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
- Engage in resistance or strength training exercises at least twice a week.
- Implement physical activity into your daily routines by taking the stairs rather than the elevator or walking short distances instead of driving.
Medications And Supplements
- Consider taking cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins, bile acid sequestrants, and PCSK9 inhibitors as directed by your doctor.
- Consult your doctor about supplements such as fish oil and plant sterols, which may help lower cholesterol levels.
4. Lifestyle Changes
- Quit smoking to help raise HDL cholesterol levels.
- Stress can be managed using meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
- Maintain a healthy weight by eating a well-balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity.
- Limit your alcohol consumption because it can raise your cholesterol levels.
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is critical for older adults to reduce the risk of various health problems. Healthy cholesterol levels can be maintained through a healthy diet, regular exercise, medications and supplements, and certain lifestyle changes. Speaking with a healthcare professional is advised to determine the best approach for your specific needs.
Tips For Implementing Lifestyle Changes
Making lifestyle changes can be difficult, but the long-term benefits to your health and well-being are well worth the effort. By following these suggestions, you can form lasting habits and achieve your goals, whether to improve your diet, increase physical activity, or manage stress.
Resources And Support Available
Numerous resources and support services are available to assist you in making lifestyle changes. Here are a couple of examples:
1. Support groups
Find a workout partner or a support group. It can be very motivating to have someone to share your journey with.
2. Apps and technology
There are numerous apps and technologies available to assist you in tracking your progress, setting goals, and remaining motivated.
3. Health professionals
Consult your doctor, a nutritionist, or a personal trainer like LOF coaching for advice. They can assist you in developing a plan that is tailored to your specific requirements.
Cholesterol Management for Long-Term Cardiovascular Health
Managing healthy cholesterol levels is crucial to decrease the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, and other health concerns. As high cholesterol levels pose a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so monitoring and managing them throughout life is imperative. Thus, we recommend maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Seniors should also consult their doctor about cholesterol screening and management, including necessary medication.