Atherosclerosis occurs when fat gathers along the walls of blood vessels, causing them to narrow, stiffen and harden. As a result, it’s more difficult for blood to deliver oxygen to the heart and brain which increases risk of stroke. Because a longer span of time allows for more significant fat collection, elderly people are more likely to be affected. Personalized treatment for atherosclerosis is available in some senior assisted living homes as well as active retirement communities.
New research out of Johns Hopkins Medicine demonstrated how cholesterol that is produced, transported and broken down atypically can be intercepted for atherosclerosis prevention. Researchers genetically altered mice to make them more susceptible to atherosclerosis by removing a protein that breaks fat down. They were then fed food high in cholesterol and fat, a diet comparable to a person eating cheeseburgers for three meals a day.
Results revealed the a fat and sugar molecule in cell membranes called glycosphingolipid determines how well cholesterol is metabolized. The widely-known function of GSL is regulating cell growth, but this experiment demonstrated that GSL also regulates how the body handles cholesterol. It was found to control how fat is procured, absorbed, moved to tissues and organs, deconstructed in the liver and ultimately excreted. By blocking the syntheses of the that molecule with a man-made protein, scientists were able to prevent heart disease and blood flow restriction, regardless of the quantity of cholesterol the mice were ingesting.
According to the World Health Organization, 2.6 million deaths worldwide can be attributed to high cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded more than 70 million Americans with high cholesterol. Some lifestyle changes that can aid in preventing atherosclerosis are increasing physical activity, quitting smoking and avoiding foods high in cholesterol. An assisted living center can offer a nutritious meal plan and initiate exercise to help seniors combat heart disease, including atherosclerosis prevention and treatment.