Health experts will tell you that there’s never a bad time to set goals to focus more on living better and eating better, which can be great news to residents of Van Nuys and elsewhere, including those receiving in-home care.
The staff at Accredited Home Care know that people generally know that food and exercise play a role in our overall health, but it’s more obvious when there’s a lack of both – poor diet and poor exercise habits can contribute to obesity and other poor health conditions.
Likewise, working to improve both areas, even after years of poor habits, can lead to improved health all around.
Where To Start
One great starting point is looking for ways to improve your cholesterol level. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in many foods and also naturally produced in your liver. Over time, especially with low physical activity or a fatty diet, it can build up in your arteries and increase the risk of blockages, which can cause a stroke, as well as heart disease and heart attacks.
The Mayo Clinic said there are ways to reduce it, which can improve blood flow and reduce these risk factors. Focusing on better cholesterol can also provide a boost to any heart- or cholesterol-related medications which you may already be taking, so your body will have even more potential positive benefits.
Starting can be as easy as eating better food, losing weight, exercising more and making lifestyle changes like drinking less and stopping smoking. Some of these may not actually be easy, but with support, encouragement, and will-power, they all can be made a bigger priority.
Take action now
If you’re waiting for an opportunity to focus on better cholesterol and better heart health, any time is the right time.
That’s the message that the American Heart Association shares all year long, and even has different themes every month as a way to hopefully interest people anytime along with different groups who may have higher risks than others. For instance, there’s National Nutrition Month each March and Men’s Health Month in June.
This month, September is dedicated to cholesterol education, not just by the American Heart Association but by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC officials encourage everyone to get their blood cholesterol checked this month, and if it turns out to be high, begin to take steps to lower it.
The educational component of the month is also vital, since people may know that they should improve their health and cholesterol levels are important, but not everyone knows the process and why.
That’s why the CDC and other health partners are inviting everyone to learn more, from basic definitions to how they can do their part.
This way, they can talk to their provider about it, request a test, called a lipoprotein profile, and understand the findings. This test measures all your cholesterol levels including two figures.
One is HDL, short for high-density lipoprotein. This protein is actually considered “better” because it helps reduce the build-up of all cholesterol in arterial walls
The other is LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, which is considered less good because it increases the rate of build-up.
The lipoprotein profile test also measures the number of triglycerides, which is an organic material made from three fatty acids and glycerol. Triglycerides, also known as lipids, are found in many natural foods and oils, but too many in the blood can increase the risk of a stroke.
Learn your numbers
Some of the common terminology for indicating cholesterol includes:
Total cholesterol: This figure combines your LDL, HDL, and triglycerides, and is typically given in milligrams over deciliters. Anything under 170-200 mg/dL is considered desirable. The CDC says most Americans age 20 or older are in the moderate range, which is 200-239 mg/DL. People are considered at higher risk for heart disease if their cholesterol is at least 240 mg/dL or higher, which is about 35 million people.
LDL: Everyday Health says the ideal range for LDL cholesterol is 100/DL or less. “Near-optimal” is 100-129. Borderline high is 130-159. High is 160-19, and anything over 190 is considered very high.
HDL: Different experts put different recommendations for ideal levels, but generally anything higher than 40 is preferred, and anything below this is discouraged.
Triglycerides: The idea range for these is less than 150 mg/dL.
Research is regularly taking place into cholesterol and sometimes the recommended levels do change. But the advice rarely does. People who are interested in learning more about their risk or how to change behaviors can contact their health provider.
For those with good levels, testing is recommended every five years. But those with higher cholesterol levels are recommended to be tested at least annually.
The staff at Accredited Home Care is also familiar with cholesterol and is happy to discuss it with clients, including ways to improve it and reduce risk factors.