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Lower Your Cholesterol with These Tips from the Phoenix Senior Care Experts!

Phoenix Senior Care

Take these steps to lower your cholesterol.

If your doctor has warned you that your cholesterol is creeping upward, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help improve it before trying cholesterol-lowering medication. And if you already take medication, the tips below can actually improve the cholesterol-lowering qualities of your medication.

It’s helpful to understand what cholesterol is, and how it can affect your health. Cholesterol is manufactured in your liver and has several important functions. It helps to keep the walls of your cells flexible and is necessary in the production of several hormones. But, like anything else…too much of it can create problems.

Cholesterol is transported in the body by molecules called “lipoproteins” which carry cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood. Lipoproteins levels in the blood are used to determine cholesterol levels. You may have heard that low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are bad. This type of lipoprotein carries cholesterol to deposit it on blood vessel walls, leading to clogged arteries, hypertension, stroke, kidney failure and heart attack. So, it is important to lower this level. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the good lipoproteins, helping to carry cholesterol away from vessel walls and preventing artery-clogging disease. So, it is important to raise this level.

Your hereditary influence is something you won’t be able to change, but how you manage other high-risk influences can make a difference. Listed below are lifestyle changes that can help you lower your cholesterol while improving health and quality of life, courtesy of the Phoenix senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare:

WATCH YOUR FATS

  1. Focus on Monounsaturated Fats

Your doctor may recommend a low-fat diet for weight loss, but often a diet low in fats can reduce not only your harmful LDLs, but may also reduce the beneficial HDLs. In contrast, a diet high in monounsaturated fats will reduce harmful LDLs but also protect higher levels of healthy HDLs. A few good sources of monounsaturated fats:

  • Olive oil and olives
  • Avocado
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts and cashews
  • Canola oil
  1. Use Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fats

Studies show that polyunsaturated fats reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some good sources are:

  • Fish oil supplements
  • Seafood with high fatty content: salmon, mackerel, herring, bluefin and albacore tuna
  • Seeds and tree nuts (not peanuts)
  1. Eliminate Trans Fats

Trans fats are handled differently by the body than other fats. They can increase total cholesterol and LDLs, and also decrease the beneficial HDLs. Use of trans fats leads to heart attack and stroke. In the US, food companies are required to list trans fats on nutrition labels. However, they are allowed to round down when the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams. This means some foods contain trans fats even though their label says “0 grams.” Read further on the nutrition label. If a product contains “partially hydrogenated” oil, avoid it, as it contains trans fat! Foods that contain trans fat include:

  • Margarine
  • Store-bought cookies and crackers
  • Fried fast food
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Non-dairy creamer

INCREASE SOLUABLE FIBER 

Soluble fiber actually reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream by increasing probiotics or “good bacteria” in your intestine. These bacteria will reduce harmful lipoproteins and LDLs. The best sources for soluble fiber include:

  • Beans
  • Peas and lentils
  • Fruit: apples and pears
  • Oats and whole grains: not the quick-cooking oats, which have the fiber processed out
  • Fiber supplements like psyllium

ADD WHEY PROTEIN 

Whey protein found in dairy products can help lower both LDL and total cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure. Foods containing whey protein include:

  • Milk
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Whey protein powder

AVOID SUGAR 

If you see sugar, corn syrup or any word containing “ose” at the top of the ingredient list, avoid it.

EXERCISE

Moderate exercise every day can not only combat obesity, it can also help raise good cholesterol levels. Be sure and check with your doctor before you start any exercise program. Try to work up to at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least 5 times a week. Some exercises to consider:

  • Brisk walking
  • Riding a bike
  • Resistance exercise
  • An exercise class
  • Playing a favorite sport

QUIT SMOKING

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by changing the way cholesterol is handled in the body and results in the faster development of clogged arteries. Quitting smoking helps improve your HDL cholesterol levels. This will lower your blood pressure, improve your liver function, and reduce your risk of heart and lung disease.

LOSE WEIGHT

Carrying a few extra pounds contributes to high blood cholesterol. Weight loss will reduce your total cholesterol by decreasing the creation of new cholesterol in the liver.

As mentioned, sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol to optimal levels. If your doctor orders medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed along with continuing your lifestyle changes.

Call on the Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare for more healthy living tips, and for the professional in-home care assistance that ensures older adults are living life to the fullest! Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

Heart Disease Is Different for Men and Women

At Home Care Scottsdale

Learn the differences in heart disease symptoms between men and women.

With the CDC reporting that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men, it’s important for all of us to understand how to recognize and prevent the condition – and surprisingly, this can vary widely between the two genders. The heart itself is, in fact, physically different based on gender, with women’s hearts comprised of thinner walls and smaller interior chambers, pumping blood faster and yet with less blood per pump than the hearts of men.

As a result, women’s heart disease risk factors differ from men’s in the following ways:

Heart Disease Risk Factors Specific to Women:

  • Endometriosis
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure developed during pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovary disease

Heart Disease Risk Factors for Both Men and Women:

  • Elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, and/or blood sugar levels
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Family history

Women’s experience with heart disease and treatment/recovery differ as well. For instance, because heart disease in women often effects the smaller arteries, diagnosis through the typical means (angiogram) is less effective, as it shows blockages in the larger arteries only. In fact, it’s recommended that women who receive clear angiogram results but are still experiencing symptoms of heart disease see a cardiologist with a specialty in women’s heart health.

Heart attacks also differ between men and women. Consider the following:

  • A first heart attack usually occurs at a later age for women than men (on average, 70 for women and 66 for men)
  • A woman’s heart attack can include the additional symptoms of:
    • Sweating
    • Extreme fatigue
    • Pain in the back, neck or jaw
    • Shortness of breath
  • Women typically struggle with a more difficult recovery following a heart attack than men, requiring a longer hospital stay
  • Women are more likely to experience a subsequent heart attack

One thing that applies to both genders when it comes to heart health is prevention. Reduce your risk of heart disease and a heart attack by making the following lifestyle changes:

  • Quit (or never start) smoking
  • Ensure your diet includes plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods, simple carbs, and animal products
  • Ensure that your blood pressure, blood lipid, blood sugar and weight are all within healthy levels
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day

For more heart health tips, call on Nightingale Homecare, providers of the highest quality at home care Scottsdale and the surrounding area has to offer. We can help with planning and preparing heart-healthy meals, encouraging an active lifestyle, ensuring medications are taken exactly as prescribed, and much more. Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 and take the first step in improving heart health for yourself and the seniors you love!

Love Your Heart? Feed It Well!

Senior Heart HealthAge and decreased activity can increase seniors’ risk for heart disease, but there are simple steps to take, such as improved nutrition, that can make a world of difference. Eating a diet that helps prevent heart disease is easier than you think. These simple strategies, courtesy of the Surprise home health care team at Nightingale Homecare, will have your senior loved one well on the way to a heart-healthy diet.

  • Choose fats wisely. We’re all aware of the need to cut back on fats that are dangerous to our health, such as trans fats, but there are actually healthy alternatives that we should all include in our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids (those found in avocados, olive and canola oil, nuts and fish), consumed in small amounts, are the best choice.
  • Eat your veggies. And fruits, too! The recommendation is two servings of fruit, especially those with dark-colored skin, and between three and five veggies, particularly non-starchy options such as broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, and dark, leafy greens.
  • Think natural. Processed foods are typically heavy on salt content, along with other unhealthy additives. Choosing foods in their natural state helps prevent an overconsumption of salt, which is typically anything over 2,300 mg per day (or 1,500 mg per day for those at increased risk of heart disease).
  • Go lean with protein. Saturated fats found in red meat and many dairy products clog arteries. Better choices for protein include fish, skinless chicken, soy, nuts, and beans.
  • Fiber up! Soluble fiber provides the heart-healthy benefit of lowering LDL and triglycerides. Beans, oat bran and steel-cut oats, barley, and a variety of fruits and vegetables are great options.

If you’d like more tips and resources on improving heart health for a senior loved one, contact the Surprise home health care professionals at Nightingale Homecare. We’re also available to provide experienced hands-on care, in the comfort of your home, to improve overall health and wellbeing, through services such as:

  • Managing chronic disease
  • Planning and preparing nutritious meals
  • Providing transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and other outings
  • Assisting with personal care and hygiene needs
  • Running errands, such as picking up groceries and prescriptions
  • Taking care of light housework, laundry, pets and more around the home
  • A full range of skilled medical services provided by our registered nurses – and much more

Whether your loved one could benefit from just a few hours each week of assistance, or if more in-depth care is needed up to 24 hours each day, we’re on hand to help. Contact us for a free in-home assessment at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

Senior Chest Pain: Scottsdale Home Health Care Experts Share What It Could Mean

Scottsdale Home Health Care When your elder loved one experiences pain in the chest, it is always a cause for concern. The elderly are at far greater risk for experiencing a myocardial infarction (MI) or heart attack, so getting a diagnosis and treatment at the first onset is critical. Although chest pain is often associated with a heart issue, there may be a variety of reasons why your loved one is experiencing pain in the chest. Chest pains can also be a sign of lung, bone, muscle, nerve or gastrointestinal trouble.

Nightingale Homecare, a trusted provider of home health in Scottsdale, offers the following helpful information to help you understand the causes of chest pain, and how to help your senior loved one best describe what he or she is feeling in order to get the appropriate help.

Some more common causes of chest pain that do involve the heart:

  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Myocarditis: inflammation of the middle heart wall
  • Endocarditis: inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart

Some other causes of chest pain that do not involve the heart include:

  • Gastric reflux, heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pleruitis – inflammation of the lung lining
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Gallbladder issues
  • Muscle strain
  • Fractured ribs
  • Shingles
  • Anxiety or stress

The most important thing to consider while narrowing down the cause of chest pain is to pay attention to the quality, intensity, duration and location of the pain along with other accompanying symptoms. Pain presents in a variety of ways; sometimes it’s described as crushing, burning, stabbing, dull, etc. Often pain will radiate from one localized site to another. Other symptoms may accompany chest pain, such as shortness of breath, sweating or nausea. All of these signs can help your loved one’s health practitioner determine the cause of the pain.

Often, the pain experienced from gastric reflux is mistaken for a heart attack, also called myocardial infarction. It is important to track your loved one’s symptoms and get immediate medical attention to get a correct diagnosis.

Some differences between heartburn and heart pain include:

  • Heartburn is usually a burning chest pain while heart pain is generally a crushing chest pain.
  • Heart pain is usually accompanied by difficulty breathing, sweating, dizziness and fainting.
  • Heartburn brings on a sour taste in the mouth and is often relieved by antacids, while ischemic heart pain is eased by nitrate medication.
  • Heart pain tends to radiate down the left arm, to the neck, jaw or abdomen.
  • Heart pain can be brought on by physical activity and psychological stress, while heartburn worsens after eating.

Your loved one may not react to pain in a typical way, and it is best not to try to diagnose, but to seek immediate professional medical advice and treatment armed with pain and symptom tracking.

For more tips on keeping your senior loved ones safe and healthy, or to learn more about how our home health care services can improve quality of life for seniors, contact Nightingale Homecare’s team of experts in home health for Scottsdale and the surrounding area at (602) 504-1555.