Cholesterol is a waxy fat that the body naturally produces. Cholesterol has a bad reputation because most people are aware that high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. However, it plays an important role in the body. Cholesterol is necessary for the production of certain hormones and bile. It is also one of the necessary elements for the creation of human tissues. It’s when the levels of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol outside the normal ranges that they can cause a problem.
Good Cholesterol and Bad Cholesterol
There are two kinds of cholesterol, good and bad. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, is referred to as bad cholesterol. This is the kind of cholesterol that can build up on artery walls, causing blockages that can lead to a stroke or heart attack. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the good cholesterol. HDL cholesterol prevents blockages from occurring by latching on to the bad cholesterol and carrying it back to the liver where it is broken down.
Cholesterol levels are tested using a blood test called a lipid profile. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone 20 years of age or older have their cholesterol levels checked every four to six years. As a person ages or if they have elevated cholesterol levels, a doctor may recommend more frequent screening.
Understanding Test Results
Doctors report the results of a cholesterol screening using a lipid profile. The profile includes the following information:
- Total Cholesterol: This is a single number that represents HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and other lipids. A total cholesterol level less than 200 is considered normal.
- HDL Cholesterol: Because HDL is the good cholesterol, a higher number means a better result. This number should be 60 or higher.
- LDL Cholesterol: LDL cholesterol is the bad cholesterol, so a lower number is desirable. Ideally, this number should be below 100, but is not considered high until it reaches 160 or above.
Managing High Cholesterol
If your senior parent is diagnosed with high cholesterol, a home care provider can help with improving the numbers. The Mayo Clinic suggests following a diet that includes healthy fats, but avoids trans fats. They also recommend eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish, but avoiding foods that contain a lot of cholesterol. A home care provider can help your parent to prepare meals that conform to the doctor’s recommendations. The doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes like exercising more and losing weight. A home care provider can be present at home while your parent exercises to ensure their safety, or they can drive them to exercise classes. Home care providers can be an extra level of support for your parents—someone who encourages them to keep trying and who celebrates their successes with them.
If you or an aging loved one are considering in home care in Charlotte, NC, please call the professional staff at Caring at Heart today at (704) 379-7510. Serving Charlotte, Statesville, Ballantyne, Mooresville, Huntersville, Matthews, Concord, Gastonia, Pineville and Indian Trail