If you’re worried about your own or an elderly loved one’s cholesterol levels, the associated risk factors, and/or how you could prevent cholesterol-related medical problems, you’re in the right place.
Keep reading this article to learn about what cholesterol is, how it affects your health, why its levels increase, and more.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that’s mostly found in your blood. Your liver makes it in order to support your bodily functions, but you can also get cholesterol from certain food products.
Understanding cholesterol levels and numbers, and what they mean, may help you keep the amount that’s in your body at a healthy point. Doctors and medical professionals measure two main types of cholesterol (high-density and low-density lipoprotein), and both of them are important.
The substance, which looks similar to wax, isn’t always unhealthy or harmful. On the contrary, it plays a crucial role in cell growth and allows your body to produce vitamins and hormones.
Nonetheless, a large amount of low-density lipoprotein (LPL) in your bloodstream can cause medical issues, including the following:
- Atherosclerosis (when excess levels of cholesterol start to form plaque in the artery blood vessels).
- Artery diseases that prevent blood from going to your arms, legs, heart, and/or brain.
- Chest pain.
- Heart attack.
If you are concerned about your own or an elderly loved one’s cholesterol numbers, you want to initially avoid the habits and/or treat the health conditions that lead to elevated cholesterol levels.
What causes high cholesterol?
High cholesterol could be caused by someone’s activities or diet and certain diseases.
First of all, inactivity is linked to increased LPL numbers. Simply put, the body needs to be active to burn excess fats, including cholesterol. This may be done through exercising, playing sports, or even walking.
Similarly, consuming foods with large amounts of cholesterol can result in unhealthy LPL levels in the blood. A low-fat and healthy diet, on the other hand, will allow the body to both get the cholesterol that it requires and eliminate (rather than store) the rest.
Diseases that Cause High Cholesterol
There are certain diseases that put a person at risk of developing high cholesterol problems. If you or a loved one have any of these diseases, you want to make sure that you stay active, follow a healthy diet, and regularly monitor your cholesterol numbers:
- Chronic kidney disease
In addition to the above disease, there are other aspects that could also lead to high cholesterol.
What increases someone’s risk for cholesterol?
The following factors increase the risk that a person will get cholesterol-induced medical issues
- Age: In short, the likelihood that one develops cholesterol-related health problems goes up as they get older.
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol makes it harder for your liver to process and get rid of cholesterol.
- Smoking: Smoking elevates cholesterol levels, particularly in the arteries.
- Not Exercising: Regular exercise helps you burn cholesterol because, when you’re physically active, your body converts excessive fats to energy and your metabolism increases. It goes without saying that the lack of exercise could contribute to cholesterol problems.
- Poor Diet: Foods that contain large amounts of animal fats and cholesterol boost your blood’s cholesterol levels.
- Obesity: Cholesterol and weight are directly correlated. In part, this is due to the fact that the liver will produce 10 milligrams of additional cholesterol for each 10 pounds that exceed the healthy weight range. Obesity also impacts a person’s liver and their ability to regulate their body’s cholesterol content.
Since most of these factors revolve around an individual’s habits and lifestyle choices, there are many ways to prevent or, at the very least, minimize the risks of developing cholesterol-related medical problems.
How to Prevent Cholesterol Problems
Here are a few dietary and healthy living tips that can help you and/or your elderly loved one prevent cholesterol-induced medical issues:
- Women and men should limit their drinking to 7 and 14 drinks per week, respectively, or avoid alcohol altogether.
- Several studies looked at the effect of quitting smoking on HDL cholesterol (the good type). They showed that those who quit had higher HDL levels and lower quantities of its counterpart, LDL cholesterol. The latter can accumulate in the arteries and lead to heart problems.
- Get into a daily routine and exercise for 30 minutes or more 5-6 per week.
- Manage and minimize your stress since stress and cholesterol are interconnected. Without doing so, your body may automatically release fats that could be turned into energy. However, these fats (with cholesterol being one of them) will accumulate in your veins and arteries when you’re stressed and not physically active.
- Before you buy food, snacks, and beverages (or grab them from the fridge), look at the nutrition labels and prioritize low-fat products.
- Follow a low-salt diet and eat plenty of whole grain foods, fruits, and vegetables.
- Restrict your intake of animal fats and balance your consumption of LDL cholesterol (in other words, don’t have too much).
- Take advantage of your exercise routine and low-salt diet as tools that help you lose weight. Not only does this reduce the amount of cholesterol that the liver produces, but it also enables it to process and remove fat quicker.
If you and/or your elderly loved one is obese, inactive, or has a lifestyle that may bring about cholesterol issues, you critically need to implement these lifestyle changes and routines.
This is even more crucial when an elderly patient has a disease or medical condition like diabetes and HIV/AIDS.
In short, now that you have finished reading this article, you can start addressing cholesterol-related problems and minimize you and your loved one’s risks by exercising, eating well, and following the other tips that we outlined.