When February rolls around, we all find ourselves thinking about matters of the heart. While love is always top of mind this time of year, there’s another heart issue that is important to think about – keeping the heart healthy. During Heart Awareness Month the senior care services experts at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care, share the signs and symptoms of high cholesterol and how it can impact older adult heart health.
The word cholesterol is often feared because it is associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. But what many people don’t realize is that our bodies actually need cholesterol in order to build healthy cells. It’s when an individual’s cholesterol levels get too high that a person needs to be concerned. High cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to form in blood vessels. As these deposits grow, it becomes harder for blood to flow through the arteries, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
There are two types of cholesterol – low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is often called “bad” cholesterol because it is the kind that builds up on the walls of the arteries. HDL, on the other hand, is called “good” cholesterol. It works to pick up extra cholesterol and bring it back to the liver.
The body already makes all the LDL cholesterol it needs. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle can lead to the production of more LDL than the body needs. Behaviors that can negatively affect your cholesterol levels include:
- A diet high in fat, salt, red meat, and processed foods.
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Being overweight or obese
Heredity can also play a role in a person’s cholesterol levels. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).
Signs, Symptoms, and Complications
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol. A blood test is the only way find out if a person has it. Even young children can have high cholesterol, so the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends that a person’s first cholesterol test be done between the ages of 9 and 11 and repeated every 5 years after that. Cholesterol screenings should be done every 1 to 2 years for men ages 45 to 65 and for women ages 55 to 65. For people age 65 and over, cholesterol tests should be done annually.
High cholesterol can lead to a number of dangerous complications including:
- Chest pain
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart attack
Changing to a healthier diet that includes healthy fats, fiber, lean meats like fish, and lots of fruits and vegetables, can help reduce cholesterol levels. Getting daily exercise and limiting salt and alcohol intake can too.
When it comes to making healthier choices, sometimes older adults need a little assistance, and that’s where the referred care providers at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care can help. Our Florida senior care services can be customized to meet the specific needs of each individual and help older adults live healthier lifestyles by assisting with things like daily exercises, healthy meal planning and preparation, and much more.
Contact us any time to learn more about in-home care for older adults by clicking the link to the location nearest you below:
- American In-Home Care – Serving North, Central, and West Coast of Florida
- Advocate In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
- Whitsyms In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661