As we approach a certain age, Heart disease becomes a major threat to senior health— in fact, 84 percent of people age 65 years and older die from heart disease and is the leading cause of death for men and women. While heart disease risks increase with age, small changes in certain lifestyle habits and a heart-healthy diet can help protect you!
Heart Disease Prevention
Get enough exercise: This means at least 30 minutes of exercise almost every day of the week. It can be as light at going on a morning walk!
Quit smoking: If you do smoke, it’s time to quit
Eat a heart-healthy diet: Limiting saturated fats, salt, and foods containing cholesterol, like fatty meats. No diet plan will work, however, if it is so strict and unappealing that we never enjoy our food. Below are some general guidelines to increase your chances of a healthy heart:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Adding simple soups or salad into your daily diet will bring necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your diet and help control cholesterol.
- Select Whole Grain options: Skipping the bread for Oatmeal or rice. Or when eating bread/pasta go for whole grain options!
- Eat Flax seed: It is a wonder food full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids which are thought to be very protective of the heart and arteries. You need to store the seeds in the fridge and grind them in a coffee grinder right before eating for the best benefits. Add to salads, baked goods, or oatmeal for a nutritious boost.
- Cut the Fat: We all know beef and other high-fat meats have a bad reputation for “clogging arteries.” Eat smaller portions
- Select low-fat options: Cheese and other dairy products are very high in the types of fats that lead to high cholesterol.
- Dark Chocolate. The darker and purer the chocolate, the better it is for your heart, Ingredients found in dark chocolate are believed to reduce heart disease by as much as one third. Limiting intake is still important because chocolate is high in fat as well.
- Drink Green and Black tea. If you’re a caffeine lover like myself, you’ll find that research on the effects of caffeine is contradictive, but green and black tea might be a good choice for you. They contain flavanols that are believed to protect and maintain a healthy heart.
- Walnuts. Walnuts have the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids that protect the heart, but most nuts are good for you overall.
Go to the doctor regularly: 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. That doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking all together though! For example, something in red wine called resveratrol is protective for the arteries. Treating yourself after a long day with a glass of red wine can actually be good for you, but it’s not recommended that you down a whole bottle every day. This is not the type of glass I’m talking about.
Minimizing stressors: Stress can compound many heart disease risks that seniors already face, steering you toward an unhealthy lifestyle. Chronic frustration, stress, fear and even depression can be bad for the heart and lead to an increase in heart disease. Some research has shown that three emotions are beneficial to heart health.
- Gratitude: Keep a list of things your thankful, or make it a point to write something your thankful for every day. Keep them in a jar to remind yourself when you’re feeling down.
- Laughter: Watch a funny film, or hang out with good friends that give you a good laugh.
- Connection: Get out, find a group, take a class, call an old friend – your heart will be lighter.
Sleep is important: Research shows the most correlation between sleep and increased risk of coronary heart disease when people are getting less than 5 hours per night. Most people should have between 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Limit caffeine intake and stop drinking it in the early afternoon and keep a regular sleep schedule to have a routine.
Watch your weight: Too many pounds can add up to increased heart disease risk. To help prevent heart disease, maintain healthy body weight for your size.
It's never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle!
Know the Symptoms of Heart Disease
The warning signs of heart disease often don’t appear until you're having a heart attack. Symptoms of an emergency or impending heart attack may include:
- Feeling faint
- Weakness or a sensation of light-headedness
- Having a hard time catching your breath
- Feeling nauseous or vomiting
- Feeling very full or having indigestion
- Pain in the chest or uncomfortable pressure in the chest
- Unusual pains in the back, shoulders, or neck
- An irregular heartbeat
Practice your new healthy heart habits by getting your special someone a dark chocolate candy assortment this Valentines Day! By helping the other people in your life live a healthy lifestyle it will help you as well. It will allow you to connect, express gratitude and allow you to enjoy the sweet things in life without giving them up!