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American Heart Month: Understanding Bad vs. Good Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance found in every cell that is very useful to your organs and tissues. However, if your body has more cholesterol than it needs, the excess will remain in the blood, circulating until it eventually builds up under your blood vessel wall lining. These deposits, called plaques, can slowly block blood flow and lead to coronary artery disease.

In honor of American Heart Month, a campaign to spread awareness about heart disease, Home Care Assistance of Columbus wanted to share some important information about cholesterol, one of the leading risk factors for heart disease and related cardiovascular conditions. When family caregivers understand the difference between good and bad cholesterol, they can help ensure that the proper diet and exercise plans are in place to promote a healthy, happy lifestyle for their loved ones.

The first thing to note is that there are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and HDL (high-density lipoproteins). LDL cholesterol is also referred to as “bad” cholesterol, as it is the main source of buildup in the arteries, leading to blockage and serious health complications. HDL cholesterol is also known as “good” cholesterol since it helps to remove cholesterol from your arteries. So if your loved one’s doctor asks him or her to work towards lowering their cholesterol, they are really asking them to lower their bad cholesterol while raising their good cholesterol.

While it’s true that some cholesterol problems are hereditary, there are also important lifestyle factors that impact cholesterol. Many people can achieve healthier levels by eating a diet low in saturated fat. Not all fat is bad for seniors and older adults. In fact, some is necessary for the absorption of many important nutrients. The key is to choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts, and fish.

Physical activity is also helpful for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Frequent aerobic exercise can increase good cholesterol, and the results can be seen quite quickly. Even a brisk walk around the block every day can garner positive results. As an added benefit, physical activity can lead to weight loss, which also increases good cholesterol.

When lifestyle changes aren’t enough, there are medications available that can be used to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Your loved one’s doctor can work with you and your loved one to create a personalized plan for success.

To learn more about how to live a heart healthy lifestyle, reach out to the Columbus live-in care experts at Home Care Assistance and see how our balanced approach to care – which promotes healthy eating, regular exercise, social ties and feelings of calmness and purpose – is helping to change the way the world ages. Call 614-481-8888 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation today.