High cholesterol is a common problem for people over the age of 55. As we age, our bodies become less efficient at processing and removing cholesterol, which can lead to an accumulation of the waxy substance in our blood. Cholesterol itself is not a bad thing as our bodies need it to produce hormones, build cells and produce vitamins. Cholesterol becomes a problem, however, when the body produces too much of it.
For some, this may happen because of genetic predisposition. The liver—where cholesterol gets produced—may signal the body to overproduce cholesterol. High cholesterol can also happen as a result of making poor dietary choices and overconsuming foods high in saturated in trans fats. These are often foods that come from animal products as well as oils that are found in baked goods.
Why and how to manage cholesterol over 55
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other serious health conditions, so it’s especially important for people over 55 to manage their cholesterol levels.
Here are several best practices for reducing your risk:
Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet is important for managing cholesterol levels and maintaining overall health. This includes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limiting saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
Get regular exercise
Regular exercise can help to improve cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and maintain a healthy weight. Adults over the age of 55 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, per week.
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease and other health problems. Quitting smoking can help to improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Take cholesterol-lowering medication
For people with high cholesterol who are unable to manage their cholesterol levels through diet and exercise alone, cholesterol-lowering medication may be recommended. These medications, such as statins, can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you’re over 55, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to determine the best approach for managing your cholesterol levels. This may involve a combination of lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medication, depending on your specific needs and goals.
When to see a doctor for high cholesterol
You should see a doctor for high cholesterol if you have any of the following risk factors for the condition:
- A family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
- High blood pressure
- A sedentary lifestyle
You should also see a doctor for high cholesterol if you’re experiencing any symptoms of the condition, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue.
Also be sure to get regular check-ups with your healthcare provider, including regular cholesterol and blood pressure screenings. This can help to identify and address any potential health problems early on, when they’re most likely to be treatable.
Managing high cholesterol is an important aspect of maintaining good health for anyone over the age of 55. By making healthy lifestyle choices and taking medication as needed, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and other health problems and maintain good health as you age.