Senior Living Care Blog

Cholesterol and Heart Disease in Older Adults

Posted by Joe Gilmore on Jan 30, 2019 11:00:00 AM

According to new data from the National Safety Council, heart disease is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. The NSC found that the odds of dying from heart disease is one in six, higher than cancer, respiratory diseases, and much more. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 600,000 Americans die each year from heart disease and about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.


Heart disease describes a range of conditions that can affect your heart. Some diseases include coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems, heart defects, and more. It also includes cardiovascular problems like blocked blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks.


One study found that a majority of cardiovascular disease cases and deaths occur in the elderly. Similarly, one of the leading causes of heart disease is poor diet which can lead to high cholesterol. However, there are some steps that you can take to manage the cholesterol in the body and prevent these health problems.



Cholesterol and Heart Disease

A heart monitor to track an individuals heart beat who is having heart problems

Heart problems can come in many forms, each has their own causes and symptoms, however, there are a few constant variables across most forms of cardiovascular disease. For instance, some common symptoms for people dealing with heart problems include:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, or coldness in the legs or arms
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, back, or more


Similarly, there are a number of common causes that can influence hearts and cardiovascular health.


As mentioned before, high cholesterol can lead to, and is one of the main causes of, heart and cardiovascular diseases. However, it should be noted that there there are two main types of cholesterol, one is good and one is bad.


Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol. High LDL levels leads to a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries which narrows and blocks them. Meanwhile, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is a good cholesterol. HDL is important for the body as it carries cholesterol from other parts of the body back to the liver, and then the liver removes cholesterol from your body.


Heart disease is often caused by something called atherosclerosis.



Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease, according to Mayo Clinic. Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries. When the plack build up thickens and stiffens in the artery walls, it can inhibit oxygen-rich blood flow to organs and tissues and can cause major health problems such as heart failure.


Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease and can be caused by a number of correctable problems such as unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, obesity, and smoking. However, aging and becoming older is one unpreventable problem that can increase risk of heart and cardiovascular problems.



Prevention and Treatment

As mentioned above, there are a number of methods that are effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular and heart diseases. One easy way to reduce these risks is to stop smoking. Smoking cigarettes leads to a wide range of health problems, not just heart conditions.


Quitting smoking reduces the risk of lung cancer, and many other types of cancer, reduces risk of respiratory problems like coughing and shortness of breath, reduces risk of lung diseases, and more.


Another preventative measure that you can take to lower chances of some cardiovascular diseases is by changing diet habits. As mentioned before, there is good cholesterol, HDL, and bad cholesterol, LDL. Many foods have saturated fat and trans fat, both of which are bad as they will raise LDL and can lower HDL in the body. These types of fats are found in foods like dairy products, chocolate, deep-fried foods, crackers, margarine, and more.


Medline recommends that instead of eating these bad fats, eating healthier fats like lean meat, nuts, olive oil, canola oil and more is a smarter health decision that can end up having positive health benefits. Eating whole grain cereals, fruits, beans, and vegetables can also be helpful in absorbing cholesterol in the digestive tract.


Along with changing diet, exercise is always a good way to get healthier and even reduce risk of health problems like cardiovascular diseases. Many senior individuals may think that exercise can be hard because of the physical complications with aging. However, there are a number of easier exercises that seniors can participate in to get healthier. Exercises like yoga, Tai Chi, walking, or even jogging, can all go a long way in helping maintain a healthy weight and prevent cardiovascular problems and even falls.


It should be noted that if you or a loved one is experiencing problems that may be related to heart disease, the best thing to do is contact a medical professional immediately. Feeling lightheadedness, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and more are all signs there may be a problem with heart health



In Conclusion

Heart and cardiovascular disease is a major problem across the country and is one the leading causes of death for all Americans, however, seniors are at higher risk of dealing with the problems. One of the main causes of heart disease is atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in an artery that can inhibit blood from reaching body tissue and organs which can eventually lead to problems like heart failure. Luckily, there are a number of preventative measures that you can take to reduce the risk of dealing with some type of cardiovascular disease. Quitting smoking, changing diet habits, and exercising more are all effective ways to do this.


Making these changes in your life may be hard, especially if you are living independently. However, with the help of a caregiver or assisted living facility, finding time to exercise or changing diet can be easier. At Landmark Senior Living, we have a dedicated team of caregivers that can help with medical problems. Our facilities will also provide a number of social events and activities for our residents to participate in. If you are interested and would like more information regarding our senior care programs please reach out to our admissions staff today.



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Topics: Senior Health

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