Cardiovascular disease tends to affect the older population the most, but that doesn’t mean that it is an inevitable part of aging. In honor of Heart Month, take the time to familiarize yourself with the simple yet highly effective ways you can ensure a healthy heart. Enjoy your golden years to the fullest by taking these 8 simple steps to curb your risk of contracting heart disease:
- Get Moderate Levels Of Exercise
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease. But more than that, cardio exercise improves blood circulation, (which can reduce your risk of getting blood clots) prevents and lowers high blood pressure, and can even raise your good cholesterol levels. If you’re 65 and up, aim to get 2 hours of moderate aerobic exercise every week.
- Give Up Smoking
Smoking isn’t just terrible for your lungs, it’s bad for your heart, too. About one in every 5 heart disease related deaths is the direct result of smoking. Smoking cigarettes is shown to increase the formation of plaque in the blood vessels, and increase the likelihood of clots forming in your veins and arteries.
- Eat A Heart-Healthy Diet
What does a heart healthy diet look like? It is full of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes. These nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods can help lower the risk of heart disease, and as an added bonus, they can help you avoid gaining weight. Omega-3 fatty acids are also believed to enhance heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, so incorporate oily fish like salmon and tuna into your diet. Limit processed foods, saturated fat, added sugars, and salt as much as possible.
- Get Regular Check-Ups
See your primary care physician (PCP) at least once a year to monitor any ongoing health conditions, and to make sure that your blood pressure stays within normal range. Normal blood pressure ranges for the elderly are lower than 120 for systolic and lower than 80 for diastolic. Your doctor may order blood tests to check for high cholesterol as well.
- Cut Back On Alcohol
Drinking more than one to two alcoholic beverages a day can elevate your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Moreover, alcohol adds a lot of calories and can dehydrate you.
- Get Good At Stress Management
Stress can increase the amount of inflammation in the body, leading to high blood pressure and lower levels of good cholesterol. Try practicing healthy outlets for stress, such as exercise, yoga, mindfulness, or guided meditation.
- Stay Hydrated
Sometimes, our sense of thirst is diminished in older age, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration makes the heart work harder than it needs to. Make sure you’re drinking eight glasses of water a day to avoid dehydration and keep your heart from working too hard.
- Keep An Eye On Portion Sizes
This is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you’re getting the proper amount of calories and nutrients, as well as managing your weight. Take a look at this portion size guide to get an idea of how much you should eat in all the different food groups.
Gallagher Home Care is a Medicare-certified home health agency that serves across 8 Pennsylvania counties. Our dedicated employees are trained to provide exceptional, compassionate care to seniors in a variety of circumstances, including those living with dementia. We provide house-keeping, home safety monitoring, and companion care, and even provide free in-home evaluations for new families. Request an appointment online or call (412) 453-8082 to learn more.