Treating High Cholesterol In The Elderly
- Quit smoking: Higher cholesterol is one of the many negative effects of smoking. Nobody is ever too old to quit.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Leafy greens like cabbage are particularly good at lowering high cholesterol.
- Eat the right kind of fat: Avoiding red meat, high-fat dairy products and processed foods in favor of healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados can help seniors avoid saturated fat and trans fats, two of the biggest contributors to high cholesterol.
- Get more omega-3 fatty acids: This essential nutrient, found in salmon, tuna and flaxseed, can help raise good cholesterol. Its also available as a supplement.
- Exercise: Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise a day like walking can help seniors lower their cholesterol.
- Take medication: Millions of Americans use statins to lower their LDL cholesterol. These drugs remove bad cholesterol from the blood efficiently, and with few side effects.
Nobody is ever too old to break a bad habit or start a good one. Making lifestyle changes and taking medication that treats high cholesterol can help seniors avoid serious health problems and continue to enjoy the golden years.
How Often To Get Tested
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , most healthy adults should get their cholesterol checked every four to six years.
Your risk factors also determine how often your cholesterol should be checked. Adults who have a history of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity need more frequent readings, as do all adults as they age.
Children should have their cholesterol checked at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 20 years of age. If a child has a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or is overweight or obese, their pediatrician may recommend getting checked sooner and more often.
How To Lower Cholesterol: Smart Protein
To reduce cholesterol, limit red meat and eat more fish and lean poultry.
How to Prepare Healthy Proteins
- Trim all fat from meats, and remove all skin from poultry before cooking.
- Broil or bake, don’t fry foods.
- Drain fat from any meats before serving.
- Avoid processed meats such as hot dogs or cold cuts, even those labeled “reduced fat,” as many are still high in saturated fats and calories.
- Oily fish such as salmon or trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce triglyceride levels and improve HDL cholesterol levels.
- Soy proteins can also have a beneficial effect and help to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL cholesterol levels.
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Understanding Your Cholesterol Results
When you get your cholesterol result from your doctor, it’s split into a variety of different measurements.
- TC which stands for total cholesterol and should ideally be below 5 millimoles per litre of blood
- LDL , which should be less than 3mmols/l
- HDL . This should read more than 1mmol/l for men and 1.2 mmol/l for women
- A fasting triglyceride sample, which should be 2 mmols/l or less
- A non-fasting triglyceride result, which should be 4 mmols/l or less.
Total cholesterol of 5.8mmols/l is higher than recommended, but could be reduced with simple diet and lifestyle changes rather than medical treatment. Medical treatment would only be appropriate if the level was much higher.
You Dont Need To Avoid Eggs And Seafood
Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example:
- Egg yolks a single egg yolk contains 200250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake . However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Seafood prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.
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Numbers Women Should Know
As you age, you lose some of your natural defenses against both heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. But you can prevent these conditions, even in your 50s. Both heart disease and diabetes are easily the most dangerous conditions facing women in this decade, but also the most preventable.
Theyre also intricately related. According to Harvard Medical School, diabetes and other symptoms of metabolic syndromelarge waist, elevated blood pressure and triglycerides, high blood glucose levels and glucose intoleranceare the most important risk factor for heart attacks in women at an earlier age. And your 50s is early. Heart disease may not abruptly present itself until later but its already starting now.
During this decade, its extremely important to know your numbers. Heres whyIn a study conducted by the American Heart Association, half of the women knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, but only 13 percent of them were worried about it. For younger women in their 50s, its dangerous to think it cant happen to you.
Because women in this age group tend to dismiss symptoms that arent easily recognized as heart attack symptoms, they die more than men of the same age who have typical pain and shortness of breath. Research shows women also die of diabetes more than men because it hits them harder during menopause.
Why Is Cholesterol Needed By The Body
With all of the bad publicity cholesterol gets, people are often surprised to learn that its actually necessary for our existence.
Whats also surprising is that our bodies produce cholesterol naturally. But cholesterol isnt all good, nor is it all bad its a complex topic and one worth knowing more about.
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Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Cholesterol
- Increase your activity levels…
- Try using the stairs instead of lifts or escalators
- Park away from the shops or your worklplace and walk the rest of the way
- Go for a walk during your lunch break
- Team up with a friend and get an allotment
- Get more active as a family – try cycling, swimming, park rambles or taking the dog for a walk.
Take a look at our wellbeing hub for inspiration, motivation and expert tips to help you eat, move and live your way to better health.
Or visit our heart centre for more information about heart related conditions and simple steps you can take to stay heart healthy.
Answered by the Health at Hand team.
Dietary Tips To Avoid Cholesterol
The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:
- Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
- Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have added calcium soy drinks.
- Choose lean meat .
- Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
- Have fish at least twice a week.
- Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
- Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
Other storage fats that are transported in blood lipoproteins include triglycerides. When present in high concentrations in the blood, this fat is also a risk for heart attack. Some foods will affect the cholesterol level or the triglyceride level and some will affect both.
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How Cholesterol Moves Around The Body
Cholesterol is a white, insoluble and waxy substance. It is carried around the body by two key transport systems in the blood, which include:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It is called the bad cholesterol because when its level in the bloodstream is high, it can clog up your arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is called the good cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells, including cells in the arteries.
High Blood Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a type of fat that circulates in your blood. Too much of it increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
The condition doesn’t have any obvious symptoms so blood tests are required to confirm if a person has high blood cholesterol.
Changes to diet, regular exercise and other lifestyle changes can reduce cholesterol levels In some cases, people with persistent high blood cholesterol may be treated with cholesterol-lowering medication.
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How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
A blood test, specifically a lipid panel or lipid profile, will show your total cholesterol levels.
The measured total cholesterol level is made up of your LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and 20% of triglycerides .
For an accurate reading, you should not eat or drink anything between nine and twelve hours before the sample is taken.
In Australia, cholesterol levels are measured in millimoles per litre .
The range below is a guide for a healthy blood cholesterol level.
- Total cholesterol should be between: 3.9 5.5 mmol/L
- HDL should be between: 0.9 2.1 mmol/L
- LDL should be between: 1.7-3.5 mmol/L
- Triglycerides should be between: 0.5 1.7 mmol/L
Risks Of Untreated High Cholesterol
High cholesterol often has no signs and symptoms but can have devastating health consequences. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the arteries and can harden. This buildup of plaque narrows the arteries and reduces and slows the blood flow to the heart. If the blood supply to any part of the heart is totally blocked, a heart attack occurs.
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What Is A Cholesterol Test Used For
A cholesterol test is a useful tool to assess the risk of heart disease including heart attack and stroke.
The test is used to measure and analyze the amount of fats in the blood. If there is too much cholesterol in the blood, treatment can be started to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
What Should My Cholesterol Level Be At My Age
Cholesterol levels differ depending on age, weight, and gender. Because a personâs body produces more cholesterol with time, all adults should have their cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis, preferably every 4 to 6 years.
Cholesterol is classified into three types:
LDL, or âbad cholesterol,â
HDL, or âgood cholesterol,â
Most people struggle with balancing these levels. While total and LDL cholesterol levels should be kept low, having higher HDL cholesterol can give some protection against developing heart-related illnesses such as heart attacks and strokes.
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Normal Range For Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter . Below are the healthy levels of cholesterol, based on your gender and age:
Children age 19 and younger
The total cholesterol you want is less than 170mg/dL. You want less than 100mg/dL of LDL. You also want more than 45mg/dL of HDL. If your childs LDL cholesterol levels are higher than an adults, your doctor may prescribe a treatment plan and lifestyle change.
Women over 20
The total cholesterol women want ranges from 125 to 200mg/dL. Their LDL levels should be less than 100mg/dL. They should have 50mg/dL or higher of HDL.
Men over 20
A normal range for mens total cholesterol is 125 to 200mg/dL. Men will want less than 100mg/dL of LDL. You will also want 40mg/dL of HDL cholesterol.
What Is The Most Important Cholesterol Number
When we measure cholesterol and blood fats, were really talking about three different numbers: HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. They combine to give you a lipid profile score, but the three individual scores are most important. Here are the numbers to strive for: Total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or lower.
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Why Cholesterol Levels Differ In Men And Women
Healthy cholesterol levels are the same for boys and girls through childhood. But this changes when puberty hits. “Women have higher HDL cholesterol from puberty on. Boys have more testosterone, which lowers HDL,”Robert Eckel, MD, professor of medicine, emeritus, at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, former president of the American Heart Association and president of the American Diabetes Association, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Essentially, after puberty, women tend to have higher levels of “good” cholesterol than men. “Theoretically, this is why women live longer and tend to have heart attacks later in life ,” Dr. Eckel says.
Pregnant women or older women taking hormone-replacement therapy to manage menopausal symptoms tend to have higher average cholesterol, Dr. Eckel says. But this increase is actually caused by HDL, which can be quite high for these groups.
“It’s important to understand that, if HDL is high, it’s distributed in a form of cholesterol that we’re not concerned about,” he says. “In fact, it may be protecting women from the risk of heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.”
This is why understanding the difference between HDL and LDL is so important simply having high total cholesterol may not be an issue if it’s caused by elevated levels of good cholesterol.
What Do The Results Mean
The results of the test determine whether the cholesterol levels in the persons blood are healthy.
The results will be broken down into several categories by the type of fat. The results are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood .
Total cholesterol levels
Having a result less than 200 mg/dL is considered good. Borderline high results range from 200-239 mg/dL. High cholesterol levels are considered to be any number over 240 mg/dL.
HDL cholesterol levels
With HDL, it is higher levels that are desirable. A result below 40 mg/dL is poor. A result between 40 and 59 mg/dL is better, while a reading of 60 mg/dL or higher is the best result.
LDL cholesterol levels
LDL cholesterol recommendations vary based on the health of an individual.
- People with heart disease or diabetes should aim for LDL levels below 70 mg/dL.
- Individuals with no heart disease but who are at higher risk for heart disease need to keep levels below 100 mg/dL.
- For people with no increased risk of heart disease, LDL levels between 100 and 129 mg/dL are near perfect.
- A reading from 130 to 159 mg/dL is considered borderline high for those with no heart disease and high for those where heart disease is present.
- A reading from 160 to 189 mg/dL is considered high for those without heart disease and very high for those with heart disease.
- A reading above 190 mg/dL is considered very high for all groups.
Lifestyle changes for high cholesterol include the following:
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What Is A Healthy Normal Cholesterol Level In The Uk
Your cholesterol level is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.
It is recommended that healthy adults should have a total cholesterol level below 5 mmol/L. In the UK, three out of five adults have a total cholesterol level of 5 mmol/L or above, and the average cholesterol level is about 5.7 mmol/L, which can be a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.
However, its important to remember that as well as your cholesterol level, other factors such as smoking and high blood pressure are risk factors for the development of coronary heart disease.
The total cholesterol level includes LDL and HDL . The risk of coronary heart disease is particularly high if you have a high level of LDL cholesterol and a low level of HDL cholesterol. Individual levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol will vary and your doctor will be able to give you specific advice based on your own results.
In the UK, components of cholesterol are measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood . As a guide, these are the values healthy adults should aim for
Lifestyle Tips To Cut Cholesterol
Changing some of your lifestyle habits may also help to reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Suggestions include:
- Cease alcohol consumption or reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks a day. Avoid binge drinking. This may help lower your triglyceride levels.
- Dont smoke. Smoking increases the ability of LDL cholesterol to get into artery cells and cause damage.
- Exercise regularly . Exercise increases HDL levels while reducing LDL and triglyceride levels in the body.
- Lose any excess body fat. Being overweight may contribute to raised blood triglyceride and LDL levels.
- Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. High blood sugars are linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis , heart attacks and strokes.
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