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What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is present in every cell in the body. Some cholesterol is needed for our body to function. Our liver produces enough cholesterol for the body. However certain foods provide additional amounts of cholesterol, which may be more than our body needs.

While some cholesterol in the blood is essential to our health, too much can be harmful. If the cholesterol level is too high, it may increase our risk of heart disease. There are many reasons for a high cholesterol level. These include diet and family history. Obesity or some diseases such as diabetes can also contribute to a high cholesterol level.

Are there different kinds of cholesterol ?

Yes. Different types of cholesterol and fats have different effects. The most commonly known types are:

LDL Cholesterol- Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, is known as "the bad cholesterol." Excess LDL builds up on our arteries and may lead to heart disease. The higher the level of LDL, the higher the risk for heart disease. Lowering elevated LDL cholesterol can prevent heart attacks and save lives.

HDL Cholesterol-High-density lipoprotein, or HDL cholesterol, has earned the nickname "the good cholesterol." That’s because it is believed to remove cholesterol from the blood. High levels of HDL in the blood may help to reduce our risk of coronary heart disease. Low HDL levels can increase our risk of heart disease.

Trigycerides-Triglycerides are another type of fat in our bloodstream. People with a high blood triglyceride level may also have a high LDL. Those with a high triglyceride level in addition to an elevated LDL cholesterol level may be at an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

What is high cholesterol ?

The definition of high cholesterol can very depending on other risk factors. Discuss with your doctor what is considered high for you.

To help you determine when cholesterol should be considered high, the National Institute of Health (NIH), USA created a panel of experts to develop the National Cholesterol Education Program(NCEP).

These experts created guidelines for the detection and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults. These guidelines are followed by doctors the world-over. 

Desirable Cholesterol Levels (as per NCEP)

Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL

LDL cholesterol less than 130 mg/dL

For people with heart disease (prior angina, heart attack. Bypass surgery or angioplasty) an LDL cholesterol level of less than 100 mg/dl. is desirable 

Risk factors for heart disease

Male sex
-High LDL Cholesterol
-Low HDL Cholesterol
-(less than 35 mg/dL)
High blood pleasure
-Increasing age
-Increasing age
-Family history of early heart disease
- ( a parent or sibling less than 55 years old [if male ] or 65 years old [if female] ) 

Tips to help older people control cholesterol

Just because you are over 65 doesn’t mean you can ignore your cholesterol level. Lowering your cholesterol can help you stay healthy by reducing you risk for heart disease.

Eat foods low in saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol.

Good choices include fruits and vegetables. Low fat and fat free dairy products and whole grains.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight raises your cholesterol and increase your risk of getting heart disease.

Be physically active

With your doctors okay, try 30 minutes of moderate activity a day. Brisk walking and stretching helps tone up the entire body and de-stresses the body. Start by dividing 30 minutes into three-10 minute sessions and gradually increase activity.

Take your medicine

If your doctor has prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication for you, it is important that you take it regularly every day. 

One Two Three…..lets exercise!

Why exercise ?

Exercise is good for your heart!Your heart is a muscle. Like any other muscle. It needs to stay active. You should ask your doctor what exercise program is right for you - before embarking on it.

For most people, moderate exercise for 20 minutes three times a week helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease significantly.

Regular exercise helps to raise the level of "good" cholesterol (called HDL cholesterol). HDL helps remove "bad cholesterol" (LDL cholesterol) from your arteries.

A high level of LDL in the blood can cause fatty buildup in your arteries, blocking the flow of blood and possibly leading to a heart attack.

Exercise can help lower your blood pleasure. If your blood pressure is too high, your risk of heart disease, and possible heart attack or stroke (brain attack), is much greater then if you keep your blood pleasure under control. Exercise can help you do this.

Exercise can also help you to lose weight. Being overweight can greatly increase your risk of heart disease, as well as raise your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Losing weight through a sensible program of exercise and diet can go a long way towards keeping your heart as healthy as possible.

Activity Calories Burned per 20 Minutes of Activity

  • Walking (normal pace)80-140
  • Climbing Stairs100-200
  • Gardening100-180
  • House cleaning100-200
  • Cycling (10km/h)120-125

Exercise has other health benefits too:

Exercise also strengths the lungs, tones the muscles and keeps the joints in good condition. And if you have diabetes, exercise is also an important part of achieving good diabetes control.

Exercise helps you cope with stress

Almost everyone of one time or the other, experiences stress. Being subjected to stress on an occasional basis is usually not harmful. Continual stress, however, will eventually have a detrimental effect on your health. Whether you suffer because of stress depends on your reaction to it. Exercise is an excellent way of coping with stress, and incorporating a program of regular exercise into your daily routine can help you deal with stress more effectively.

Here are some other good tips on how to cops with stress.

  • Plan your day.
  • Set realistic deadlines for your work.
  • Adapt to the situation
  • Try not to "fight" the stress.
  • Balance your diet
  • Put time aside each day to relax.

Take time off - a change of routine can help you to relax.


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