Symptoms of High Cholesterol in Elderly
Did you know that one in two adult Malaysians has high cholesterol?
Whenever it comes to high cholesterol levels, we always picture men, the elderly or the overweight; especially the elderly. It is always known to be one of the “package” when it comes to elderly diseases. But, the fact is high cholesterol affects everyone, regardless of age, gender, body size or even fitness level.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in our blood. Our body requires cholesterol to build healthy cells,to make hormones, vitamins D and substances that help us to digest foods. But, excessive levels of cholesterol (Low-density lipoprotein) can increase our risk of heart diseases. When we have excessive cholesterol deposited in our blood vessels, it can grow and block the blood flow or suddenly breaks and form a clot that will cause a heart attack or stroke.
There is no visible sign or symptom of high blood cholesterol. But, it can increase the risk for conditions that do have symptoms, including chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath or pain in the lower legs. So, it is recommended to take blood tests to check your cholesterol levels. Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every 5 years. Many people do not know that their cholesterol level is too high, most of the time the discovery is made during an emergency case.
High cholesterol is well known as a risk factor for heart disease. Shockingly, some research showed that high cholesterol does not increase the risk of dying from heart disease in elderly people. Rather, many people die from complications of heart disease before reaching an advanced age. This means that age is not a risk factor of high cholesterol. However, this doesn’t mean we do not have to worry about high cholesterol in elderly people. It is still one of the many factors that work together to contribute to heart disease, along with high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and physical inactivity.
Usually, patients with high cholesterol are prescribed with statins to control cholesterol levels. But, taking long term medication will bring increase toxic burden to the body. So, it’s always best to prevent and control our cholesterol levels with the “old fashion” way, to practice balanced diet, to be physically active and to avoid taking foods that are high in bad cholesterol, such as fried food, fast food, processed foods, donuts, margarine and etc. Increase the intake of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, salmon, avocado to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
Written by: Jasmine Lim
(Love Earth Nutritionist)
[Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietics (major) &
Food Science (minor) lowa State University, USA]