Cholesterol is a concern for everyone, but for elderly adults, it needs to be a top priority. For folks from this age group, there are specific concerns that loved ones caring for them need to have on their radar. Regular monitoring for high cholesterol, understanding cholesterol ratios, and ultimately, treatment of the condition, all play a part in keeping your loved one as healthy as possible.
If you think that cholesterol is only an issue for older men… think again. According to the American Heart Association, the number one killer of women in the United States is coronary heart disease, and many of these women have heart attacks later in life. This is in part due to changes in cholesterol after menopause.
Cholesterol Considerations in the Elderly
Estrogen has a positive effect on HDL cholesterol, which is the good kind. After menopause, a woman produces less estrogen, which can decrease the amount of HDL cholesterol she has. At the same time, triglycerides, as well as LDL cholesterol, which is the bad kind, can increase. In fact, studies show that at least 75% of women over the age of fifty-five have cholesterol issues which can lead to heart attacks depending on other health risks.
Older women aren’t the only ones that need to be concerned about their cholesterol levels. Men who fall into the middle-aged to senior bracket who have high levels of cholesterol are at risk for heart attacks, as well.
Both men and women should visit their doctors to have their cholesterol checked on a regular basis. From there, their doctor can determine what steps should be taken to keep their cholesterol levels in a healthy range. Your doctor’s recommendations may include changes in diet or medication.
Cholesterol Treatment in the Elderly
When it comes to medication, those among the elderly population may not always take it as diligently as they should. Often, when it comes to treating conditions that cannot be seen or felt, seniors do not always follow their doctor’s orders.
As it is important for these medications to be taken as prescribed, you can play an important role in the healthcare outcome as a caregiver for the elderly. High cholesterol can be dealt with as long as there is cooperation on all sides.
Understanding the Cholesterol Ratio
The cholesterol ratio is determined by dividing your total cholesterol number, the sum of the good and the bad, by your HDL number, (the good kind). For example, if your total cholesterol number is two hundred and your HDL number is ninety-five, your cholesterol ratio would be 2.1.
Doctors recommend that you should work to have a ratio of 3.5, but you want to be sure it is below a 5. For men, a ratio of 5 can suggest that they are at a risk of heart disease while a 4.4 ratio for a woman can indicate that she is at average risk for heart disease.
While an elderly patient might not notice whether their cholesterol is high or low as they go through their day, on the inside, their levels of cholesterol are having a direct impact on their overall health. This is one case where out of sight, out of mind, is not a good idea.
With regular monitoring and the right exercise, diet, and medication plan, cholesterol can be managed and the senior patient can live a happier, healthier life.
How do you or your loved one handle your cholesterol? Share with us in the comments below.