Don’t Wait to Starting Giving Your Heart the Care It Needs
If you’re 65 or older or know someone in this age bracket, then you should know that the odds of having a cardiac-related health problem is greater than it was just a few short years ago. The reason is because the heart changes as we get older. Age brings with it a higher risk of heart disease, arteriosclerosis (stiffening of the large arteries), atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), and heart attack.
While these things can sound scary, the good news is there are things you can start doing now to help combat these age-related changes. Here are seven important steps to keeping your heart happy and healthy as you or your loved ones age.
#1: Stress Management and Heart Health
Stress is likely one of the biggest contributors to heart problems. In fact, it’s a major contributor to all types of negative health issues. So, managing your stress and practicing calming coping mechanisms are essential for keeping your heart health in check. Try proven stress management tactics like meditation, therapy, and physical activity to help keep your stress levels as low as possible. Your heart will thank you.
#2: Stop Smoking Now!
Smoking not only increases your risk of cancer and stroke, but it also causes immense damage to the walls of your arteries that can ultimately lead to heart disease. So, stopping smoking is crucial for heart health. The good thing is that once you stop smoking, your body immediately starts to heal itself. Stopping now will lower your risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and a host of other health complications.
#3: Get More Exercise
If you’re over 65, you should try to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. This is important because it not only helps improve your strength, flexibility, and coordination, but it also helps keep your heart pumping strong and steady. Opt for low-impact activities like walking, bicycling, dancing, yoga, or gardening, and you’ll enjoy all the health benefits without risk of injury.
#4: Maintain a Healthy Weight
Find out from your doctor what your ideal weight should be based on your age and height. Then, do your best to maintain that weight once you get there. If you need to lose weight, do so in a healthy manner by balancing your calories, limiting portion sizes, and exercising regularly.
Even if you’re well above your target weight, just taking the steps necessary to improve your health will produce beneficial results throughout your body, including your heart!
#5: Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
As you age, what you eat plays a significantly larger role in how you feel. For instance, older adults are more sensitive to salt and they require more fiber than younger adults. It’s important to eat a diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals, and low in added sugars and trans and saturated fats. Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, and stick with fiber-rich foods made from whole grains.
#6: Limit Your Alcohol Intake As You Age
Wine is well-known for being beneficial to the heart, but there’s a fine line between it being beneficial or detrimental to your health. When it comes to alcohol, men should have no more than two drinks per day, while women should only have one. And, the size of the drink does matter. Here’s the guideline you should be following according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
- 12 ounces of regular beer (about 5% alcohol)
- 5 ounces of wine (about 12% alcohol)
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (about 40% alcohol)
#7: Take Your Medications as Directed by Your Doctor
If you take medications for a heart-related condition like high blood pressure or you’re being treated for high cholesterol or diabetes, then taking your medicine exactly as prescribed by your doctor is essential. Deviating from your doctor’s directions could put yourself at unwanted risk of medicine-related complications.
If you want to live a long and active life, then you need to start practicing these seven steps today. The earlier you start, the better. To learn more about how to keep your heart healthy as you age, visit the American Heart Association online.