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Cardiovascular Health for Seniors

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Heart Year Round.

As we continue with the momentum and awareness from American Heart Month in February, we’re reminded that our health is important all year round, especially when it comes to seniors and cardiac disease. Did you know that heart disease is a major cause of disability, affecting millions of individuals every year? In fact, people age 65 and older are more likely to have cardiac-related issues and women tend to be more impacted than men. The good news is that there are steps we can apply to our everyday lives to lower, possibly avoid or even reverse our risk of developing heart disease. Here are a few tips:

 

Check Your Blood Pressure

It’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly as a senior, even if you are healthy. High blood pressure can be common in mature age groups and cause major health issue as you age. As the human body gets older, its network of blood vessels changes and arteries become stiffer, leading to an increase in blood pressure. This can even be the case for people who don’t have symptoms of heart problems and lead a healthy life. It’s recommended to have your blood pressure checked at least once a year by your doctor.

 

Check Cholesterol Levels

The human body needs cholesterol to work properly, but having too much cholesterol in your blood is when problems can arise. High levels of cholesterol lead to an increased risk of heart disease, especially in seniors. When cholesterol levels are too high, fatty deposits can start to develop in the blood vessels and form a clot leading to a stroke or heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends having your cholesterol checked every four to six years. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor to figure out what’s right for you.

 

Implement Physical Activity

Exercising regularly is a crucial step in having a healthy heart. Talk with your doctor about the type of activities that would be best for your age. Because your heart is a muscle, you can strengthen it by leading an active lifestyle. It’s never too late to start exercising, and not every workout has to be high intensity. If possible, aim to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Start by doing activities you enjoy like simply taking a walk, dancing, bowling, bicycling or gardening. Avoid spending all of your hours sitting down throughout the day.

 

Quit Smoking

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, and a major cause of cardiovascular disease. Chemicals found in cigarette smoke cause our blood vessels to become inflamed, narrowing the blood vessels and leading to issues in your cardiovascular health. It’s never too late to quit smoking. Quitting, even in your later years, can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer over time.

 

Maintain A Heart Healthy Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet is key to a healthy heart. Choose foods that are low in trans and saturated fats, added sugars and salt. Be sure to steer clear of unhealthy fats, eat plenty of fruits and leafy green vegetables, and stick to foods high in fiber, like those made from whole grains. Remember, how much you eat is just as important as what you eat. To control your portion sizes, try eating from a small bowl or plate, and eat larger amounts of low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods.

 

Manage stress

Stress management immensely benefits your health and well-being. Poor mental health can actually increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Taking the time to learn how to manage stress, relax and cope with problems to improve physical and emotional health can have great benefits in the long run.

 

As it is more common for seniors age 65 and older to suffer from cardiovascular disease, it is important to be mindful of the steps you’re taking to maintain a healthy heart. Follow these lifestyle tips and speak to you doctor about what health care and lifestyle regimen is right for you.

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