February is American Heart Month. In 2019, the focus of this yearly event is on cholesterol. Cholesterol is an important factor in heart health, so it’s important to know the facts about high cholesterol.
About 33 percent of Americans have high cholesterol. Unless you’re tested by a doctor, it’s not something you’ll know. Older adults should have their cholesterol levels checked every year or two after the age of 45 for men and after the age of 55 for women. Have your parents had this important blood test?
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is something your body makes, but it’s also in many of the fatty foods you eat. Animal proteins like eggs, butter, cheese, and meats contain cholesterol. Foods that are high in saturated fats are also high in cholesterol.
Some fats are important for your health. It’s the trans fats and saturated fats that are bad. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats benefit your health. They help healthy cells grow and aid in organ health. They’re also important for nutrient absorption and hormone production.
The problem with saturated fats and trans fats is that they clump easily and will form build-up on artery walls. This leads to blockages that can restrict blood flow. If that plaque breaks away and travels to another area in the body, it can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
LDL versus HDL Cholesterol Readings
When you get a cholesterol test, the results will give you total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL readings. Total cholesterol levels should be between 125 to 200 mg/dL.
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) readings are the good cholesterol in your body. HDL helps gather the bad cholesterol and bring it to the liver where it’s broken down and processed as waste. You want a high HDL number. Ideally, the HDL should be 40 (men) or 50 (women) mg/dL or more.
LDL (low-density lipoproteins) is the bad cholesterol that causes the blockages. You want this number to be low. Men and women both want LDL levels to be less than 100 mg/dL.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains Are Important to Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol Levels
If your parents have high cholesterol levels, it may be recommended that they improve their diet. There are cholesterol medications, but they’re often used only if diet and exercise don’t help. Eating more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins like seafood, and whole grains are important.
Do your parents have a hard time eating healthy? It’s common for seniors to struggle with meal preparation. Chopping and dicing ingredients is a problem when the wrists and fingers have arthritis. Standing in place can also be a challenge. Elderly care services help.
Let elderly care providers prepare meals for your parents. They can also make sure your parents keep up with medical appointments and take prescriptions as ordered. Call our elderly care agency to talk about these and other services.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elderly Care Services in Sharon MA, or anywhere in Eastern Massachusetts, please call the caring staff at CARE Resolutions – (508) 906-5572.