As you grow older, you’re likely to gain in wisdom, experience and...health issues. Older adults are more likely to develop health problems even if they were healthy when younger. And seniors are more likely to be afflicted with multiple problems.
The National Council on Aging indicates that about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 68% have two or more. Heart disease is the #1 killer of adults over 65, and two of the risk factors for heart disease are hypertension and cholesterol.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure tends to increase with age. About 1 in 3 of the general population have hypertension or high blood pressure, but about 65 percent of Americans 60 and older have it.
High blood pressure increases your risk of a heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, dementia, kidney failure, eye damage, sexual dysfunction, bone loss, and sleep apnea.
High LDL Cholesterol
LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins. LDL is considered the “bad” cholesterol, and HDL is considered the good. Too high a level of LDL cholesterol causes atherosclerosis, an accumulation of deposits on the walls of your arteries. Atherosclerosis may cause chest pain, heart attack, and stroke.
Nearly 60% of people 65 and older have high LDL-C levels, more than triple compared to people in their 20s and 30s.
Tips for Reducing Hypertension and High LDL Cholesterol
There are three actions that reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol—activity, diet and medication. Here are ways to develop each.
- Stand instead of sitting.
- Walk instead of riding, whether you’re going to the grocery store or upstairs.
- Do your chores. Garden, mow the lawn, vacuum the carpet, wash the walls—each of these is an aerobic activity if performed for 20 minutes or more.
- The American Heart Association recommends exercising at a moderate level for 150 minutes per week for everyone except people who need to lower blood pressure or cholesterol. Guidelines for people with hypertension and high cholesterol are 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity 3 to 4 times a week.
- Don’t add salt and sugar. Watch for hidden sources of salt and sugar in condiments, creamer, cheese, canned foods, and bake mixes. Look for sugar under other names, such as fructose, sucrose, and lactose. Salt is listed as sodium on most labels.
- Include liquids in your calorie count. If you add creamer to your coffee, you’re adding calories. If you have a glass of wine after dinner, you’re adding sugars. Alcohol is a major source of calories in the American diet.
- Lose weight by cutting intake. Obesity leads to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, so it’s just as important to count your calories as it is to eat nutritious foods.
Medications can reduce your blood pressure and help lower your level of LDL cholesterol. Consult your doctor for more information.
If you prefer natural methods to lower your blood pressure and level of LDL cholesterol, there are a few well-researched methods.
If you’ve ever become angry, you know your blood pressure increases when you’re stressed. To lower stress, try meditation, yoga or Tai Chi. Or you can try slow breathing for 15 minutes a day, a practice researchers found lowered blood pressure.
To lower cholesterol, certain supplements have shown benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. They include barley, beta-sitosterol (found in oral supplements and some margarines, such as Promise Activ), blond psyllium (found in seed husk and Metamucil), oat bran, and sitostanol (found in oral supplements and some margarines, such as Benecol). Before you use any of these supplements, ask your doctor.
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