At Deupree House, we’re dedicated to helping our residents live well—we have plenty of wellness programs, fitness classes, healthy menus, and active events that help our seniors stay healthy.
But despite these healthy practices, there are still diseases and conditions that older adults must be especially aware of as they age.
Stay heart healthy and keep living well as you get older.
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the single deadliest condition in the United States. 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease every day—that’s about one death every 39 seconds. Fewer Americans die in car accidents or from any single form of cancer.
Fortunately, one of the major contributing factors to heart disease in the US is also one of the most treatable conditions—high cholesterol.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is not, in itself, bad for you.
A high amount of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol can actually prevent heart attacks.
Our bodies naturally produce cholesterol as both HDL, which helps keep us healthy, and as the less healthful LDL (low-density lipoprotein). In fact, about 75% of the cholesterol in your body will come from natural production if your cholesterol is within the normal range.
The problem with cholesterol comes when HDL levels become too low or when the blood becomes oversaturated with unhealthy LDL cholesterol which causes plaque to build up on the walls of the arteries and restrict blood flow.
Is my senior lifestyle causing my high cholesterol?
Unhealthy habits can certainly be a factor in heart disease. There are a number of unhealthy lifestyle choices that can contribute to high cholesterol, but lifestyle is not the only cause of high cholesterol.
Some people inherit genes from their parents or grandparents that cause their bodies to naturally produce more LDL.
Your gender can also increase your risk.
In women, the amount of HDL in your blood can be directly tied to your production of estrogen. The more estrogen you produce, the higher your HDL will be.
When your estrogen begins to drop, so too does your healthy cholesterol.
How do I treat high cholesterol?
There are 3 particular lifestyle changes you can make if you want to improve your cholesterol:
1. Eat Right
The old adage “you are what you eat” provides words to live by if you want to keep living well as you get older.
Skip the foods high in saturated or trans fats, and forget the added sugars or extra sodium. Start eating a heart-healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grain fiber, lean meats, fish, and low fat dairy and watch your LDL drop as your heart gets healthy.
2. Exercise More
No matter what kind of health problem you suffer from—Alzheimer’s, arthritis, heart disease, or high cholesterol—getting active and in shape can help you live a longer, healthier life.
Being active can improve your mental wellness and general wellbeing, strengthen your immune system, boost HDL production, lower your blood pressure, and keep your body strong. Inactivity can lead to obesity and ill health.
Getting as little as 150 minutes of physical activity a week can dramatically improve your health. Just remember to talk to your senior healthcare provider about finding a fitness program that is safe for you.
3. Break Unhealthy Habits
You may have heard no smoking campaigns that claim “tobacco is wacko if you’re a kid,” and it’s not wrong. But smoking is terrible habit to pick up at any age—especially if you’re trying to lower your cholesterol. Exposure to tobacco smoke can lower the amount of HDL your body produces, so quitting smoking and avoiding places where you may be exposed to cigarette smoke if you aren’t a smoker will help you manage your cholesterol.
Because lifestyle factors aren’t the only cause of high cholesterol, have your cholesterol tested even if you have a healthy senior lifestyle. Work with your doctor to seek advice and develop an effective plan to manage your cholesterol.