Chew food carefully to avoid choking risk

August 19, 2019

Q. Are older people more likely to choke on food?

More than 3,000 people choke to death every year. Children younger than 3 years old and senior citizens are the leading victims.

Young children swallow small objects that get lodged in their throats. One of the main causes for choking among seniors is ill-fitting dentures that prevent them from chewing properly. This leads to choking on a piece of food.

Other causes of choking include eating too fast, laughing while eating, eating while walking, and drinking alcohol, which can dull the nerves that help us swallow.

If you ever have to use the Heimlich maneuver on someone who is choking, here is a basic guide for adults from the Heimlich Institute:

If a choking victim can't speak or breathe and needs your help immediately, follow these steps:

From behind, wrap your arms around the victim's waist. Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against the victim's upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel. Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into their upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands. Repeat until object is expelled.

Q. How can I lower my triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a fat in your blood. Calories you take in but don’t burn immediately are converted to triglycerides to supply you with energy later. Your triglycerides level can be too high if you continue to consume more calories than you need.

Here are some pointers on how to get your triglycerides down:

• Get off the recliner and exercise.
• Cut your caloric intake across the board.
• Avoid saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. A good starting point is to stay away from foods that come from animals, such as meat, dairy and eggs.
• Eat oily fish such as mackerel, albacore tuna and salmon.
• Cut down on alcohol.
• Quit smoking.

Q. Does cholesterol serve any useful purpose?

Cholesterol, like triglycerides, is a fat-like substance in blood. You need it to produce cell membranes, protect nerves, and make hormones.

The body can make all the cholesterol it needs. Most cholesterol is made by your liver. You also get cholesterol from foods such as meat, eggs and dairy products. Too much cholesterol is dangerous, because it can lead to blockages in your blood vessels.

Cholesterol is transported through the bloodstream in packages called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) deliver cholesterol to the body. High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) remove cholesterol from the bloodstream. LDLs are often described as “bad” cholesterol; HDLs are called “good” cholesterol.

If there are too many LDLs in the blood, they will combine with other material in your bloodstream to manufacture plaque, a waxy crud that builds up on the inner walls of the blood vessels that feed your brain and heart. When this buildup occurs, you have a condition called “atherosclerosis,” which is commonly referred to as “hardening of the arteries.”

If a clot forms in blood vessels narrowed by plaque, it can block blood flow, which can cause a heart attack or a stroke.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter