HEART DISEASE: WHAT IT IS AND HOW TO PREVENT IT
One of the most common health risks for seniors is heart disease, which can differ in severity but is dangerous all the same. It is important, no matter what age, to properly care for your body in order to prevent health issues, such as heart disease, down the road. The first step of prevention is to be informed.
What is heart disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic, heart disease inclusively describes a range of conditions that can affect your heart. Heart disease is a general name that can be used to describe various conditions. The different diseases under this umbrella include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects), among others.
The Mayo Clinic goes on to say,
“The term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with the term "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart's muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease. Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices.”
What causes heart disease?
While heart disease can refer to different heart or blood vessel problems, the term is often used to mean damage to your heart or blood vessels by a buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries. Plaque buildup thickens and stiffens artery walls, which can hinder blood flow through your arteries to your organs and tissues.
This is also the most common cause of heart. It can be caused by correctable problems, such as an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight, and smoking.
While the severity of heart disease ranges from person to person, it can still be dangerous. It is important to take care of your body in order to prevent it, especially as a senior where heart diseases are more common. You can keep your heart healthy no matter how old you are, but it does take effort — possibly even changes in your everyday habits, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and increasing your activity level. Everyday Health lays out seven ways to prevent heart disease:
• Get enough exercise. This means at least 30 minutes of exercise almost every day of the week.
• Quit smoking. If you do smoke, it's time to quit.
• Eat a heart-healthy diet. Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables while limiting saturated fats, salt, and foods containing cholesterol, like fatty meats.
• Watch your numbers. Get regular check-ups to monitor health conditions that affect the heart, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and make sure they’re under control with medication.
• Reduce your alcohol intake. Excess alcohol consumption can worsen health conditions that contribute to heart disease, like blood pressure, arrhythmias, and high cholesterol levels.
• Minimize stress in your life. Stress can compound many heart disease risks that seniors already face, steering you toward an unhealthy lifestyle. Find healthy outlets to relieve stress and lower your heart disease risk.
• Watch your weight. Too many pounds can add up to increased heart disease risk. To help prevent heart disease, maintain a healthy body weight for your size.
Disclaimer: You should always consult with your local physician before you make any changes to your diet or exercise regimens.
Working with your doctor can help keep health problems under control. It's never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle and lower your risk of hear disease.