Heart-Healthy Tips for Seniors
Most people are shocked to hear that heart disease kills more Americans than Cancer, however this is the sad reality. February has been named “American Heart Month”- dedicated to educating the public on the different types of heart disease, symptoms of heart disease and ways to prevent heart disease. Seniors, ages 65 and older, are more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, have a stroke or develop a coronary heart condition- which are all forms of heart disease. These conditions can be detrimental to the overall health, wellness and quality of life for seniors but the good news is that there are simple changes that can be made to your daily lifestyle that can help keep you healthy and prevent the risk of heart disease.
Four of the most popular types of heart disease are:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve disease
- Heart failure
While we may not always be able to prevent the development of a heart condition, we can educate ourselves and be mindful of the symptoms that may indicate we need to seek medical attention. Some of the tell-tale signs of heart disease are the following:
- Pain, numbness, or tingling sensations
- Issues breathing
- Chest pain
- Dizziness and confusion
- Cold sweats
- Feeling fatigued
- Inflammation and unexplained swelling of ankles, feet, legs etc.
- Reduced ability to be physically active
- An inability to complete normal tasks or normal activities
To live a healthy life, one must adopt a healthy lifestyle. People usually get intimidated by the thought of a healthy lifestyle as they are afraid of how much effort this could entail. However, making healthy choices is easier than you think! Here are a few adjustments you can make to your daily routine (if applicable) to help get you well on your way to living your best, heart-healthy life:
Reassess your diet
Be conscious of what you’re eating- the foods you tend to gravitate towards and the foods you don’t care for. For maximum heart health, an ideal diet is low in calories yet rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and fiber so if you aren’t eating any fruit and veggies or if your intake is slim, you will want to reconsider as seniors should eat at least five (5) servings a day. Also, make sure you are eating at least 3 meals a day and not skipping breakfast! Breakfast is key to kicking off your day and what you choose to eat for breakfast can set the tone for the rest of the day.
Kick bad habits to the curb
Smoking, drinking alcohol and/or misusing prescription drugs are bad habits that can wreak havoc on your body and overall health. Focusing on smoking specifically, it can increase your risk of a heart attack considerably as it can worsen any heart disease risk factors that an individual may have already.
A little exercise can go a long way
Staying active is critical in preventing heart disease as regular exercise can help an individual maintain a healthy body weight and improve both physical and mental well-being. Don’t let the idea of exercising intimidate you! To keep active, you do not need to overdo it…something as simple as making time for a brisk walk, gardening, Tai Chi, yoga, meditation and chair exercises can have quite a positive impact.
Control what you can
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, it is important to do everything in your power to keep these conditions under control. The same goes for stress. Stressors will always exist but working to develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with these pain points in life helps you control even the uncontrollable.
Never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep
Especially as we age, getting a good night’s sleep is critical to your overall health and wellness. Sleep supports healthy brain function, weight management and maintaining a satisfactory blood pressure. Nicotine and caffeine can hinder your ability to fall and stay asleep so limiting both of these will help promote better sleep habits. Also, having a solid routine and going to bed and waking up at the same time can help train your body to get a better night’s rest.