As seniors age, it becomes increasingly important to pay special attention to our heart health. February being American Heart Month is the time when older adults and seniors are encouraged to set goals for improving their cardiovascular health. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, and older adults are especially at risk. One shocking fact the American Heart Association is reporting this year is that more than half of adult Americans don’t know what heart disease is.
The cardiovascular system changes as we age, but the good news for older adults and seniors is that it’s never too late to take steps to improve heart health. No matter your age, making lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on your cardiovascular system. The National Institute on Aging’s excellent Heart Health and Aging report is one to bookmark as a resource to refer back to as needed. Below is a summary of the many reasons why seniors should make a habit of focusing on heart health and adopting suggested tips to keep the heart strong and healthy throughout the senior years.
The Importance of Heart Health in Older Adults
Aging is a natural process, but it also accompanies several changes that can affect a senior’s heart health. Some reasons why heart health becomes crucial as you get older include:
Increased Risk of Heart Disease: Age is a significant risk factor for heart disease, with the risk increasing as you get older. A sedentary lifestyle and a lifetime of poor dietary habits can exacerbate this risk in older adults and seniors.
Decline in Cardiovascular Function: As you age, your heart may not function as efficiently as it once did. A loss of elasticity may cause the heart’s walls to thicken, leading to less efficient blood circulation.
Reduced Recovery Capabilities: Older adults may find it more challenging to recover from cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack or stroke. Focusing on heart health can reduce the risk of such events and improve recovery potential.
Ways to Improve Heart Health as You Get Older
Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and improve overall quality of life. Here are some suggestions on how to improve your heart health as you age:
Exercise Regularly: Engaging in regular physical activity strengthens your heart and helps maintain blood flow. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. Activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, and yoga are excellent options.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet: A balanced diet can positively impact your heart health. Focus on consuming whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Limit intake of processed foods, salt, and sugar. Eating heart-healthy foods can help lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure, and maintain a healthy weight. Remember: It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before making any big changes in your diet.
Quit Smoking: Smoking accelerates the aging process and increases the risk of heart disease. Quitting smoking is one of the most crucial steps older adults or seniors can take to support your heart health as they age.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight can strain your heart and raise the risk of heart disease. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Manage Stress: Chronic stress can take a toll on your heart. Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, or spending time with loved ones.
Monitor Blood Pressure and Cholesterol: High blood pressure and uncontrolled cholesterol levels can damage your heart and blood vessels. Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider will help you manage these risk factors.
Limit Alcohol Consumption: Drinking alcohol in moderation can be part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. However, excessive alcohol consumption can damage the heart muscle, raise blood pressure, and increase the risk of heart disease. To keep your heart healthy, limit your intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Seniors: It’s Never Too Late to Focus on Heart Health!
Remember, it’s never too late to start focusing on your heart health. In fact, more and more studies show that improving heart health can slow biological aging. By adopting a healthier lifestyle and making positive changes to your habits, older adults and seniors can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease and improve overall well-being as they age. Your heart, body, and mind will appreciate the extra attention you give to your heart health. And if you or a senior loved one is needing help to manage symptoms of CHF, high blood pressure or stroke recover, know that you are not alone. Our caregivers at Amada Senior Care have the training, knowledge and compassion to provide at-home assistance. CLICK HERE to find an Amada office near you to learn more.