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Heart Health for Older Adults: What Seniors Need to Know

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Heart Health for Older Adults: What Seniors Need to Know

Many seniors believe that heart disease comes as an inevitable development as you age. And an estimated 85.6 million adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease, of which 43.7 million are estimated to be individuals 60 years of age or older. But there are plenty of things seniors can do to help keep their hearts in great shape.

How to Help Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease

God tells us in Exodus 15:26, "..for I am the Lord, who heals you." While you keep the Lord's words close to your heart, you can also keep these actionable tips in mind as you work with your doctor to help reduce your risk of heart disease.

  • Lower high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Keep diabetes under control
  • Take medication to treat any chest pain

How Your Heart Changes As You Age

Aging may cause changes in your blood vessels and heart, including how they function. In general, your heart can't beat as fast as it once did during physical activity or stressful times, although your resting pulse doesn't usually change significantly as you get older. Arteries can also get stiffer, which may lead to high blood pressure.

Heart Disease Prevention

You may be doing a lot of these things already, especially if you participate in all of the social activities The Gardens assisted living community has to offer. Some of them, though, are good reminders for easy ways to help keep your heart healthy and in great shape.

Get Plenty of Exercise

Research has shown time and time again that exercise is an excellent way to keep your heart healthy. Whether you frequent the fitness center, enjoy outdoor walks, or love heading to the indoor pool, try to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Regular exercise can help your heart muscle grow stronger and become more efficient at pumping blood throughout the rest of your body.

Quit Smoking

It's a habit that's hard for a lot of people to break, but quitting smoking has tremendous benefits, especially for heart (and lung) health. Scientists say that you can start to notice a difference within 20 minutes of stopping smoking, as your heart rate and blood pressure are lower within this time frame. Twelve hours later, carbon monoxide levels drop to normal levels, and as little as three months later, your blood flow improves.

Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet

You've probably heard it over and over from your primary care doctor, but eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important. Limiting your intake of salt and high-cholesterol meats can help as well.

Watch Your Numbers

Make sure to get regular checkups with your primary care physician for ongoing monitoring of important numbers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Your doctor can help you decide if you need to control any of these with medication or nutritional supplements like fish oil.

Minimize Stress

As much as possible, minimize the amount of daily stress in your life. There are many passages in Scripture that let us know God is with us in times of stress. "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7).

Beyond prayer, take time to participate in hobbies you like, whether that's bingo, reading, harmonica therapy or card games. Take time each day to do things you enjoy.

Watch Your Weight

Your doctor can help you with this goal too. Unfortunately, too many pounds often add up to an increased risk for heart disease. Keeping yourself in good shape and maintaining a healthy weight can do good things for your heart.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

If you're not sure where to start when it comes to lowering your risk for heart disease, you can start by asking your doctor some simple questions. Use them as a jumping-off point for discussing individualized options that make the most sense for you. Here are some suggestions:

  1. What is my overall risk for heart disease?
  2. What is my blood pressure? Is it healthy?
  3. What are my cholesterol numbers?
  4. Should I consider losing weight for my health?
  5. What is my blood sugar level? Does it indicate I might be at risk for diabetes?
  6. What other screening tests should I consider that might provide more information on my risk for heart disease?
  7. What can you do to help me quit smoking?
  8. How much daily physical activity is best for me?
  9. What foods should I make sure I'm eating as part of a heart healthy diet?
  10. How can I tell if I'm having a heart attack?

Heart Health Information

If you want to get more information about heart health for seniors, you can visit websites such as the American Heart Association at heart.org. It features news stories, blogs and other interesting articles centered on heart health topics.

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