Heart health for seniors is the right topic for February, American Heart Month, a time to understand how aging affects your heart and what steps you can take to lead a longer, more heart healthy life. Why is it so important?
- Heart disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined.
- People age 65 and older are much more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, to have a stroke, or to develop coronary heart disease (commonly called heart disease) and heart failure.
- 83% of adults believe that heart attacks can be prevented but aren’t motivated to do anything.
- 58% of adults put no effort into improving their heart health.
How does aging affect your heart?
Aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels—as you get older, your heart can’t beat as fast during physical activity or stress as it did when you were younger. These type of changes may increase the risk of heart disease. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Heart health for seniors: how to delay, lower, or possibly avoid or reverse your risk.
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Aging changes in your arteries can lead to hypertension. You may feel fine but, if not treated, high blood pressure could lead to stroke and problems with your heart, eyes, brain, and kidneys.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet.Choose foods that are low in trans and saturated fats, added sugars, and salt. As we get older, we become more sensitive to salt, which can cause swelling in the legs and feet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber, like those made from whole grains.
- Quit smoking. When it comes to heart health for seniors, stopping this bad habit can bring major benefits. Smoking adds to the damage to artery walls. It’s never too late. Quitting, even in later life, can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time.
- Get moving. If possible, try to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Every day is best. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. You can walk about 10 minutes several times a day. Do it briskly: studies show that walking faster than three miles an hour cuts the risk of heart disease in participants by 50%. Even if you are confined to sitting, you can do chair exercises to work your heart.
- Do more of what you enjoy. Heart health for seniors is also about having fun. Brisk walking, dancing, bowling, bicycling, or gardening, for example. Avoid spending hours every day sitting. And remember: people who stay active and exercise with others are more likely to be successful, studies show.
- Lose the stress. Meditate, do Tai chi, practice deep breathing, try yoga. A Harvard Medical School study showed the meditation affects activity in areas of the brain that control metabolism and heart rate—slowing down the signals the brain sends to the nervous system, which in turn allows the body to slow breathing, gather strength, and boost energy—resulting in greater heart health for seniors.
- Don’t be lonely. Instead of reaching for a cupcake to beat the blues, knock on a neighbor’s door, visit a gallery, see a movie, or arrange to meet a friend. Tutor students. Join a card game. A simple hug can lower your blood pressure.
- Lend a hand! Volunteering has been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain and heart disease. It can even reduce the risk of high blood pressure in older adults. How? Generally, the more people volunteer, the happier they are. And when you are happy, you are usually relaxed, calm, and positive. All vital to heart health for seniors.
At The Gables of Brighton, we offer you lots of ways to stay active, eat healthy meals, engage with fellow residents and caring staff, and live a happier life. It’s all part of healthy aging, and we’d love to tell you more! Contact us today.