Inconsistent research in the past has led many people to assume that elderly people with no history of heart disease are “doing something right and don’t need to change.” However, the danger of …
Inconsistent research in the past has led many people to assume that elderly people with no history of heart disease are “doing something right and don’t need to change.” However, the danger of high cholestoral is even greater for older adults than for younger adults.
“No one should assume that because they have not had prior heart problems, they don’t need to prevent future ones,” said Elisabeth Schafer, Iowa State University Extension nutritionist. “Elevated serum cholesterol produces more heart attacks in the elderly than in middle-aged adults.”
Preventative measures that have been advocated for younger adults include drug therapy and/or a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes. Several recent studies have shown that preventative drugs, such as pravastatin and lovestatin, were equally effective in older and younger patients.
“Drug therapy is not the only answer, however,” said Schafer. “Improving diet and increasing physical activity have no harmful side-effects and have a double benefit. They can reduce risk for several types of cancer, as well as heart disease.”
Research relating increased physical activity and improved diet to reduced heart disease in the elderly is ongoing, but Schafer says older adults could benefit at least as much, if not more, than younger adults by following a healthy lifestyle.
“Those who have always been physically active and who have reduced saturated fat in their diet, certainly should continue those habits after age 65,” Schafer said. “And, adding exercise to your daily routine later in life can be beneficial as well. It is never too late to make the choice for a healthy lifestyle.”
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