Did you know that September is National Cholesterol Education Month? If you haven’t given much thought about cholesterol levels for the older adult in your life or for yourself, now is a perfect time to learn a little more.
First, just what is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy substance your body needs to make vitamins, hormones, and to help your cells. Our bodies need cholesterol, but having too much of it in your blood can cause health problems. This can include heart disease and stroke.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- LDL, which is short for low-density lipoprotein. This is also considered “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. Narrowed arteries raise your risk for a heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease, according to the American Heart Association. You should try to keep your LDL cholesterol to 100 mg/dl or lower.
- HDL, which is short for high-density lipoprotein. This is called “good” cholesterol. Having more good cholesterol can help counteract the effects of bad cholesterol. Aim for an HDL cholesterol level of 60 mg/dl or higher.
When you get a lab test done for cholesterol, you also will get an overall cholesterol reading. Generally speaking, a reading above 200 mg/dl is considered high cholesterol. Your health provider can guide you more on what your cholesterol level should be.
A lab test for cholesterol also will provide information on your triglyceride level. Triglycerides are the body’s most common type of fat. When combined with a high level of bad cholesterol or a low level of good cholesterol, you have a greater risk of a heart attack and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. Aim to keep your triglycerides below 150 mg/dl.
4 Steps to Keep Your Cholesterol in Check
What can you do to keep your cholesterol under control? Eating right is part of the battle, but it’s not the only step. Here are four ways to keep your cholesterol in check.
- Get your lab work done regularly. Most adults should get their cholesterol checked every four to six years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, if you have had high cholesterol in the past or you are at a higher risk for heart disease, your doctor may order those tests more frequently. Get those labs done as recommended so you can catch any cholesterol problems early on.
- Eat healthy foods to lower your cholesterol. This can include oatmeal, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, avocadoes, and olive oil. Avoid foods with little nutritional value, such as high-fat, high-sugar desserts.
- Move more. Regular physical activity can help lower your cholesterol.
- Stop smoking. This will help to increase your good cholesterol level. If you’ve tried to quit and are having trouble, ask your doctor for help, or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help.
Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Care Management
At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect care management. As our clients age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at www.secureaging.com.