July 10, 2020 Personal Care0

When is constipation an emergency?

Constipation happens when you have difficulty passing stool or when you haven’t had a bowel movement in three days.

Everyone has been constipated at one point. Usually the problem is short-lived.

The causes for constipation include:

  • A change in diet
  • A diet that contains little or no fiber
  • Dehydration
  • A lack of exercise
  • Certain medications can cause constipation
  • Certain conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract can also cause constipation (an example is irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Other medical conditions outside of the gastrointestinal tract like diabetes and lupus can also cause constipation

Normally, constipation is a short-term problem and can be alleviated by lifestyle changes.

For instance, identifying the problem food and eliminating it from your diet can stop constipation.

Adding more fiber into your diet and exercising for at least 30 minutes per day 5 days per week can also help.

Eating fruits like prunes, apples, pears and kiwis prove are effective in getting rid of constipation. If you want to have regular bowel movements, these fruits are helpful as well.

So when does constipation becomes an emergency?

Constipation that is accompanied by intense abdominal pain, vomiting, blood in the stool or severe bloating suggests a serious underlying health condition and you should see a doctor immediately.

Intense abdominal pain and constipation

Regular constipation may be come with some pain.

However when constipation comes with intense abdominal pain, it could indicate:

  • appendicitis
  • a perforated stomach
  • an obstruction (blockage) in the intestine
  • reduced blood flow to the intestines

If you or a loved one are experiencing constipation with intense pain, it is important to go to the emergency room immediately.

With these types of emergencies, symptoms progress very quickly and can cause death.

Thus, the sooner you see a doctor the better.

Vomiting and constipation

Fecal impaction happens when your stool is so hard, there is no way it can be passed. In these instance, it also obstructs normal intestinal movement.

This is the cause for vomiting in constipation and it requires immediate medical attention.

Stomach bloating and constipation

If  your stomach bloating is painful and you are constipated, this is reason to see a doctor immediately.

Blood in stool and constipation

Passing hard stool can come with some blood in the stool as the hard stool passes through the anus.

This may be minimal and may not be a cause for alarm.

However, if you notice obvious blood, large blood clots or darker colored stools when you are constipated, a more severe problem could be at hand.

A major symptom of colon and rectal cancers is blood in the stool.

This would also be a reason to see a doctor immediately.






May 15, 2020 Personal Care0

Staying active and healthy in lock-down.

While COVID-19-related lock-downs seem to be easing all around the world, it is evident that mini lock-downs and self-quarantine periods may last for a while.

Gyms, a public place where it is easy for bacteria or virus to spread, are closed.

For somebody trying to stay active and healthy, this can be a challenge.

So how can you stay active and healthy during those periods of time when movement is restricted?

Ideally, you need 30 minutes of exercise five days per week to stay active and healthy.

In today’s post, I’ll share five simple ideas for stay active and healthy in lock-down.

DisclaimerMake sure any exercise regimen you embark on is cleared by your doctor before you start.

5 Ideas for staying active and healthy when movement is restricted


Dancing is a fun and yet effective way to stay active and healthy in a time when movement is restricted.

You don’t have to have moves like Michael Jackson either!

You can either do a quick video on YouTube (or have a loved one do this for you) for dance routines and follow along.

Or you could slot in your favorite dance music, set a timer and move to that for the next 30 minutes!

Use stationary equipment you already own

That stationary bike you have been ignoring for the last few years?

You still own that my friend!

Dust off that bike (or treadmill or elliptical or…you get what I mean) and start working out.


Remember that activity you indulged in as a kid? Skipping?

It works very well.

In fact, I recently discovered a YouTube channel called the Jump Rope Dudes.

It has been inspiring to watch them post about people who have skipped their way to healthy.

Have a skipping rope around? Time to turn that into your home gym.

Walk or run in your neighborhood

In most places, there is no rule against walking or running in your neighborhood.

My advice however is that you observe social distancing rules – stay six feet apart – while you exercise outdoors.

I also don’t recommend wearing a mask while working out.

If you’re lightly walking, this may not be a big deal.

However, if you will be running or taking on exercise that involves a lot of more activity, realize that your body will also need more oxygen.

If you have a mask tightly over your face, you will not be getting the oxygen as you need.

And this can lead to fainting.

So wear your mask in crowded public spaces.

But if you must engage in vigorous exercise, take the mask off so you can breathe the oxygen you need.

Use your exercise mat!

Your exercise mat is more than a pretty accessory.

There are hundreds of types of exercises you can do on just an exercise mat inside your home.

Check out this video for exercise mat ideas for staying active.


Staying active and healthy during lock-down is possible!

In this post, I reminded you of 5 simple and yet effective ideas for staying active and healthy in lock-down.

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May 31, 2019 Personal Care0

Eczema is a common and yet misunderstood disease.

In today’s post, I will explain what eczema is and what you should know if you have a loved one with eczema.

What is eczema?

Eczema, which is also called atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin care condition.

Although, it usually begins when a person is a child, it can show up at any age.

Eczema is considered an autoimmune condition.

To understand what this means, it is important to understand how the immune system works.

The immune system of your body is able to fight off bacteria and yeast using various cell types.

Your immune system is able to do this because it recognizes certain unique factors about bacteria and other microbes that provides information to the cells that these are “the enemy”.

In certain instances however, your immune system becomes hypersensitive and will fight your own body because it is somehow recognizing it as “the enemy”.

And this is the underlying factor when it comes to autoimmune disease.

What causes eczema?

Although the cause of eczema is not fully understood, we know it is happens as a result of an overactive immune system like I described above.

Because it occurs commonly in children-10-20% of children in the developed world suffer from eczema- some scientists suggest that air pollution and less exposure to infections which “prime” the immune system and make it robust, could be causes of eczema.

Symptoms of eczema

The most common symptom of eczema is dry, scaly and itchy skin.

Most people with eczema usually also have another type of allergy.

For people who have severe eczema, scratching the itchy skin may cause the skin to break and ooze fluid.

Over time, eczema can lead to thickened, scaly and dry skin.

People with eczema regularly have “flare-up” periods where the condition gets worse. This could happen as a result of:

  • Sweating
  • Humidity
  • Fabric texture (eg wool clothing)
  • Temperature changes
  • Food allergies
  • Stress

Furthermore, for a lot of people, not only do they suffer physically from the disease, they might also be worried about their appearance.

Thus, it is not uncommon for someone with eczema to constantly cover up their skin or avoid events where they would have to uncover their skin.

How to manage eczema

As you can already tell, eczema is both physically and mentally difficult for the person who has it.

What can you do as a caregiver who has a loved one with eczema?

Or perhaps you have eczema yourself and are looking for tips?

Here you go.

  • If you (or your loved one) has never seen a doctor to receive a diagnosis about your skin condition being eczema, don’t guess. Using homemade treatments without the proper diagnosis can lead to issues along the line.


  • Avoid situations that could cause an eczema flare-up. This is not always possible because we cannot control weather conditions for instance. However, once you learn what triggers a flare-up for you avoid those triggers. Doing this is one of most effective ways to keep eczema at bay-especially now that summer is around the corner.


  • Ask your doctor for a prescription. Because eczema is a type of allergy, your doctor might most likely prescribe antihistamines. These work best for reducing itchiness. Find out from your doctor which one would be best for you.


  • If need be, speak to a mental health professional about how having eczema makes you feel. Stress is one of the causes of a flare-up. If you deal with that stress properly, you can prevent it from coming back for a long while.

Eczema is annoying.

And for some, it causes self-esteem issues.

The points I shared above should help you and your loved one understand and manage eczema effectively.

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March 22, 2019 Personal Care0

Summer is around the corner and some of us are already dreaming of the warm weather, cool drinks and long days.

But it is important to not forget about skincare as you go about enjoying your summer.

In today’s post, we are talking about 10 summer skincare tips for older adults.

Let’s dive right in.

10 summer skincare tips for older adults

  1. Remember to wear your sunscreen. Whatever you do, don’t leave the house without sunscreen on your skin. Doctors recommend that that use sunscreen that contains a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Sunscreen that contain SPF protect your skin the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. UV rays are notorious for causing certain types of skin cancers.
  2. Sunscreen is wonderful, but even then, it does not protect you 100% from the sun’s UV rays. Thus, it is important to also wear protective clothing. Make sure to have on hats and long sleeved (but airy) clothing.
  3. Put some extra sunscreen on those areas of your skin that are the most exposed-your arms, back and legs-are always worthy of extra care.
  4. As much as possible stay out of the sun between 10am to 4pm. This is when the UV rays are the strongest. Staying out of the sun during this time helps with reducing your exposure to harmful rays.
  5. Drink more water! Drinking water is good for so many reasons. Because it is hot during the summer, it is easy to lose water from your body and become dehydrated. Dehydration has an effect on your skin. Drinking more water will keep your skin nice and hydrated all summer long. This is important because we lose more water and become more easily dehydrated as we get older.
  6. Use moisturizers that keep dry skin at bay.
  7. Use aloe vera to soothe sunburns. You wore the sunscreen and the protective clothing but how many of us know that even after all that, sometimes the sun still burns you? Well, if you do happen to experience a sunburn, aloe vera is great for soothing the pain. **Make sure to check with your doctor if you’re not allergic to aloe vera before you use it.
  8. Use a face mask to reduce oil build-up on your face.
  9. Exfoliate your skin to reduce pores so you can enjoy smooth skin all summer long!
  10. Don’t forget about your lips. A lot of people forget about their lips during the summer. But this area of your skin needs as much help as it can get during these months. A simple lip balm helps always.

And there you have it: 10 summer skincare tips so that you can enjoy the summer to the fullest.

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March 18, 2019 Personal Care0

Summer is right around the corner.

While we’re all looking forward to bright and sunny days-not to mention the warmth-skin care is still important.

For a lot of seniors, summertime means days of dehydration and dry skin.

As we age, our skin cells lose the firmness they once had.

This means that older people lose water from their bodies easily and thus are more prone to problems related to dehydration.

And as if dry skin wasn’t enough, that dry skin very often leads to itching. None of these things are fun!

In today’s post, I’m going to talk about what you can do to cure dry skin for yourself or an elderly loved one.

Cure for dry skin in the elderly-Tips to help you beat it

  • Use moisturizers, creams and lotions on your skin everyday and throughout the day. Not all lotions are created equal. Some of them just seem like the manufacturers did not even want to make the lotion. These are not helpful and dry out almost as soon as you put them on your skin. Established brands that have historically sold thick lotions are the best to buy if you want to get your money’s worth. I would even dare say that if you’re not afraid of the grease, petroleum jelly might be a wonderful solution to keeping your skin moisturized.


  • Use a moisturizing soap or body wash when you take a shower. There are soaps and body washes that are harsh and which dry out your skin. Avoid these if you are trying to cure dry skin.


  • Use a humidifier in your room so that your skin, mouth and nose don’t dry up at night.


  • Drink more water. This might seem obvious but a lot of people miss it. If you want to stay hydrated, you will have to drink more water. I’ve heard some people say they don’t like the taste of water. If you’re one of those people, you can make your water more palatable by adding fresh fruits that flavor it.


  • Avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day. The hottest part of the day is usually between 10am-4pm. If you need to be out, make sure you have sunscreen and protective clothing on.


SIDE STORY:There was a time I got bad heat exhaustion from being in the sun for too long. I grew up in the tropics and thought I could handle the sun. Well, I was 100% wrong and learned that day that following simple rules like staying hydrated and wearing the appropriate protective clothing is a must if you want to avoid dehydration.

Don’t forget your electrolytes

Last but not least, don’t forget your electrolytes. As you drink, make sure you are not forgetting to keep up with you electrolyte levels. Having low levels of sodium and potassium for instance can also cause problems for you in the summer. Drinks like Gatorade are helpful when it comes to hydrating and keeping your electrolyte levels right.

Plus they contribute to the health of your skin.

The Wrap Up

Enjoy your summer! And take care of your skin.

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What is melanoma and why should you care?

Well, as we come out of an unusually cold winter, it is not odd that you would want to leave the memory of winter behind and embrace sunnier and hotter days.

In fact, I am all for it!

However, in our excitement to enjoy the sun, it is important to pay attention to skin conditions that can be triggered because we are over-exposed to the sun.

One such condition is melanoma.

In today’s post, I am going to touch on 7 facts you need to know about melanoma and how you can prevent it from happening to you and your loved ones.

Melanoma Facts: What you need to know

What is it?

A melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is directly related to an over-exposure to the sun.

It happens when the pigment-producing cells in your body- melanocytes- become mutated (and no longer function properly).

How dangerous is it?

While melanoma is a less common type of skin cancer as compared to other types such as basal cell skin cancer, it can be more dangerous.

This is because melanomas are more likely to metastasize (spread) from one area of your skin to other organs.

And this is why melanoma is not a skin condition to be trifled with in the least.

Melanoma is more common in fair skin

While melanoma can happen regardless of race, it is more common in people with fairer complexions.

Which part of the body do melanomas occur?

Melanoma can happen anywhere on the skin but it is more likely to occur on those areas of the skin that are more exposed. For men, melanomas will typically appear on the chest and back. In women, melanomas occur commonly on the legs.

What causes it?

A melanoma is regularly caused by an over-exposure to the UV rays of the sun.

An artificial source of UV rays such as a tanning bed could also result in melanoma.

It is possible however for a melanoma to occur in an area of the skin that is not exposed to the sun.

 What does a melanoma look like?

  • Large brownish or reddish spot. In darker people, it may look like a much darker area of your skin.
  • A mole than changes color, size or bleeds.
  • Sometimes the mole is multi-colored and does not have regular edges.

If you notice any of these signs, talk to your doctor immediately so you can get tested.

What can you do to prevent melanoma?

What can you do to keep this skin cancer away?

  • Avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day. This usually is between 10am to 4pm.
  • If you need to be out, wear sunscreen containing an SPF level of at least 15. Wear some sunscreen even in the winter!
  • Wear protective clothing, hats, etc to protect yourself from the exposure.
  • Be aware of drugs that make you more sensitive to the sun (yes these exist!). Ask your doctor if any of the drugs you are taking make you more sensitive to sunlight.
  • Avoid tanning beds. I know it’s a popular trend but it is much cheaper to stay cancer-free.
  • If you notice any changes in your skin as I described above, talk to your doctor immediately. It is better to have it ruled out as a harmless mole than to find out the worst later.

So get out there and enjoy the sun as we enter the warmer months. We deserve it!

However, make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to take great care of your skin to keep melanoma away.

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November 9, 2018 Personal Care0

A wedding is happening in the family and photos are just not going to cut it.

Your senior loved one wants to be there.

The only problem? It’s a destination wedding, so, you and your elderly loved one are going to have travel out of the country.

Don’t worry.

International travel with seniors doesn’t have to be scary.

In fact, if you plan it properly, it could be a memorable and perhaps much-needed trip for everyone involved.

In this post, I will be sharing 5 tips you should take note of when you’re traveling internationally as a caregiver with your elderly loved one.

Call the Travel Security Administration (TSA) ahead of your travel

Passengers who are 75 and above can receive an expedited form of screening. So if you are traveling with a senior who is 75 find out what the those expedited procedures will be when you get to the airport.

In addition to this benefit, if your elderly loved one is disabled or uses assistive medical devices, TSA can make special accommodations for them if you call or e-mail at least 72 hours before travel.

You can e-mail TSA Cares at or call them at 855-787-2227 from 8am to 11pm EST during the week and 9am to 8pm EST on weekends and holidays.

  1. Call or e-mail TSA Cares about your elderly loved one’s medical condition or disability.
  2. Also inform them if you and your loved one will be traveling with a service animal, oxygen tanks, medical gels, syringes or any other medications like insulin.
  3. It is best if you have medical documentation to back up your elderly loved one’s diagnosis. A simple letter from your doctor stating the medical condition will be helpful.
  4. Filling out a TSA Disability Notification Card will allow your loved one to be screened with their needs in consideration.
  5. Alternatively, you can consider getting TSA PreCheck. This is an expedited form of security screening that is considerably shorter than the regular screening lines. It costs $85 and will last for five years. Find out more about TSA PreCheck here.

Call airline customer service ahead of your travel

Calling the airline ahead of your travel plans is also helpful.

If you inform most airlines, they will dispatch people to assist elders with getting on and off the plane, wheelchair transport and with a seating plan that suits your elderly loved one on the journey.

If your loved one is on a special diet, calling the airline customer service ahead of time will ensure that they have the right choices for them.

Pack the essentials

Make a detailed list ahead of time and make sure you pack medications and other home care medical supplies your loved one will need when you reach your destination.

It is also important to pack some of these items in an easily accessible bag so that if they are need during travel, you can easily access those.

It is a pain when you have to open up large pieces of luggage to search for stuff.

Essentials that can go into this “emergency bag” include:

  • Incontinence products like adult diapers
  • Wipes
  • Facial tissue
  • Insulin
  • Inhaler
  • Pain medication like Ibuprofen or Tylenol
  • Lotion/petroleum jelly
  • Snacks- For low blood sugar situations

If your loved one has a prescription that will run out while you’re traveling internationally, make sure to either carry the prescription so an international pharmacy can use it or get a refill right before the trip.

Get your travel documents in order

Will you need to get a visa? Do you already have a passport?

Make sure to iron out these details before you buy your tickets.

Choose your seats

As much as possible and especially if your elderly loved one has a medical condition, it is ideal that you buy a seat next to them so you can help them on the trip.

If you are hiring a travel companion to come along with you, you can do the same thing.

Aisle seats are especially helpful for getting to the bathroom easily. If you have the opportunity to pick those, do so.

On the day of travel, give yourselves plenty of time

Get to the airport early. At least an hour ahead of the flight boarding time is always a safe cushion.

Even though you may have called TSA ahead of time, there is no telling what might be happening at the airport that day.

If you get there on time, you and your elderly loved one will not feel rushed and you will be able to navigate your trip smoothly and without agitation!

Enjoy the trip

What is it they say?

You only live once?

You might not always have an opportunity to travel so enjoy the trip. Take in the sights. And make some great memories.

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Did you know that 1 in 3 adults is at risk to develop Type 2 diabetes?

This risk gets worse as people grow older and organs don’t function as well as they used to.

In this post, I will be explaining exactly what Type 2 diabetes is, the symptoms associated with the disease, and why you or your elderly loved one needs to see a doctor immediately to manage diabetes.

Understanding Type 2 Diabetes

When you eat, your body breaks down food into different molecules that are then transported in your blood to your cells so that they can perform the functions that are necessary for life.

One of the major molecules that is broken down from your food is glucose (sugar). Glucose is an important source of fuel for your body and is at the core of many important biological and chemical processes in your body.

Glucose is transported in your blood to your cells.

You can think of your cells as a house with a door.

The key to that door is another chemical produced by your body called insulin.

In a non-diabetic person, insulin “opens the door” to your cells and allows glucose to enter into your cells.

In Type 2 diabetes however, insulin does not function properly and so glucose is unable to enter into the cells.

This results in high concentrations of sugar in the blood (this is not where sugar should be!) and ultimately results in Type 2 diabetes.

Now you’re probably thinking “But why would insulin suddenly not function properly?”

There are a few reasons why this might happen.

  1. It could be that your pancreas- the gland in your body which produces insulin- does not produce enough insulin
  2. Or it could be that even though there is insulin, your cells are resistant to the insulin for some reason and thus not allowing glucose to enter your cells.

Whatever the case is however, Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that requires medical attention.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include:

  1. Increased urination. You notice that your elderly loved one has the need to urinate more than before.
  2. Increased thirst.
  3. Increased hunger. Because glucose does not enter your cells like it should, you experience intense hunger.
  4. Sudden unexplained weight loss.
  5. Fatigue.
  6. Blurred vision.
  7. Wounds that are slow to heal. Infections may be difficult to clear as well because your immune system is somewhat compromised.

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Where there’s smoke, there is usually fire right?

Although scientists are not completely sure what causes diabetes, the following are risk factors associated with the disease.

Reducing/managing these risk factors can also reduce the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

  1. Obesity.
  2. Family history. If a parent or sibling has had Type 2 diabetes, it increases your risk significantly. And even though this is not a risk factor you can modify, modifying other things can keep the disease at bay.
  3. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age. The risk goes up significantly after age 45.
  4. Lack of physical activity. Physical activity helps you lose weight, and makes your cells more responsive to insulin.
  5. Race. African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to Caucasians.
  6. Gestational diabetes. This is true for women who had a temporary form of diabetes while they were pregnant.
  7. An unhealthy diet.

As you can see, while many of these risk factors are things you can’t help, losing weight through physical activity and a healthy diet will help to significantly reduce your risk for diabetes.

What can you do as a caregiver?

As a caregiver, the best thing you can do for an elderly loved one with diabetes is to help them pay attention to medical advice.

Diabetes is a disease that appear “not serious” until complications develop.

Usually, those complications are hard to treat and can be fatal.

Thus your job as a caregiver is to encourage your loved one to:

  • Eat healthy
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise– even 30 minutes of exercise three times weekly can do wonders
  • Take medicines that are prescribed to them. You will also have to pay attention to any side effects of prescribed medication so that you can report them immediately
  • Watch your loved one for complications of diabetes (we will talk about this in another blog post).

Closing Thoughts

Diabetes is one of those disease that can “lurk” in the background until it is too late.

Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of what Type 2 diabetes is, take action for yourself or your elderly loved one before it is too late.

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Didn’t think the health of your brain was connected to heart?

Think again!

Although the heart and the brain are located in very different parts of your body and you wouldn’t think they affect each other, keeping your heart healthy can contribute to a healthy brain.

Here’s the deal: whenever your heart beats, blood is pumped out to all organs of your body: your brain included.

The blood that is carried to the different parts of your body contains oxygen and nutrients your body needs to function properly.

Just before the blood reaches the brain, there is a layer called the Blood Brain Barrier that allows for oxygen and nutrients to move into your brain cells.

Because the quality of blood that reaches your brain from your heart depends heavily on the health of your heart, it is important to keep it healthy to ensure everything keeps running smoothly.

High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can all affect the brain in a bad way.

Add in the reality that as we age, there’s an increased risk for heart-disease and heart-related problems, and this is a topic that needs to be taken seriously.

Because we take your overall health seriously, in this post, we will talk about how you can have a healthy brain by keeping a healthy heart.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension happens when the pressure of blood against the walls of a person’s blood vessels is too high.

When a person has high blood pressure, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the brain.

Over time, this overworking of the heart leads to a weakened heart and blood vessels that are not effective at transporting blood to your brain.

When this happens, your brain is starved and unable to function at the level it needs to.

How do you keep high blood pressure at bay?

While there are drugs that can help you keep blood pressure low, eating a healthy diet with reduced salt and exercising regularly is helpful when it comes to keeping blood pressure down.

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a natural product that forms a part of your cells.

It can however become dangerous when you have too much of it in your blood.

Because cholesterol is a waxy-like substance, it easily sticks to the walls of your blood vessels.

Over time, it can cause plaque- a hard substance which clogs your blood vessels.

As you can imagine, clogged blood vessels are not going to be effective at transporting blood.

How can you keep cholesterol levels low?

Eating foods low in LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the first step to getting your cholesterol under control.

Food that are high in good cholesterol (HDL) cholesterol help to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.

These foods include:

  • Olive oil
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains
  • High-fiber foods
  • Flax
  • Chia seeds
  • Nuts

Exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating a low carbohydrate diet can also contribute to lowering cholesterol.

Some people have naturally high levels of cholesterol because they have a hereditary condition known as familial cholesterolemia.

For such people, a doctor may recommend medications to keep cholesterol low.

Because there are no real symptoms that show you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it’s important to get consistent check-ups to make sure a doctor catches these problems during the early stages.

Keep a healthy brain by keeping your heart healthy

As we age, the risk for heart conditions goes up.

Because there is risk for memory loss and dementia with old age, it is especially important that we keep our hearts healthy so everything else is healthy.

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