It is estimated that over 85 million adults in the United States have one or more types of cardiovascular diseases, with the numbers highest for those 60 years and older. As we age, it becomes even more important to think about our heart health and steps we can take to reduce our risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Everyone wants to have a healthy heart, but unfortunately, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the U.S. February is Heart Health Month, and in preparation, Brickmont Assisted Living wants to provide you with five tips to promote heart health!
1. Get Moving and Stay Active
Physical activity is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and your heart health is no different. Cardio exercises can make your heart stronger, so it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood. For the best results, cardio exercises should last for at least 30 minutes a day and should be done as often as possible to help improve health. Some simple cardio exercises include:
- Walking, running, or jogging
- Jumping rope
- Climbing stairs
- Lifting weights
According to Harmony R. Reynolds, MD, associate director of the Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York City, "intermittent exercise doesn't compensate for the time you sit.” If you find yourself sitting for multiple hours a day (at work or home), make sure to stand up and move around periodically. Lack of movement can affect blood levels of fats and sugars, and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
2. Regular Visits with a Healthcare Provider
With heart health being a prevalent concern amongst older adults, frequent check-ups are necessary to ensure proper health. Scheduling routine doctor visits will allow you to know what your resting heart rate is, your cholesterol levels, and your blood pressure levels. These visits can help you make necessary adjustments to your lifestyle or catch potential risk factors before they develop into something more severe.
3. Putting a Stop to Bad Habits
There are several bad habits that can hinder your progress to a healthier heart. While some habits are more obvious to associate with poor heart health, i.e., eating foods high in fat or smoking, there are other habits you may not link to poor heart health. These habits can include:
- Undiagnosed depression
- Assuming you’re not at risk
- Ignoring physical symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, etc.)
One habit that can significantly contribute to heart disease is stress. Finding a way to relax and alleviate feelings of stress can promote heart health, and may help improve other aspects of your life, as well.
4. Heart-Healthy Foods
If you only eat processed and fatty foods, you are more likely to develop heart problems much sooner than those who maintain a healthier diet. A diet based around heart-healthy foods is one of the best ways to improve overall health. Foods like avocados, berries, spinach, fish oil, and dark chocolate are some of the best food items for heart health. HealthFinder has a fantastic article that can help you shop for a diet that promotes heart health!
5. Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Heart
Though it may not seem as obvious as dieting or exercise, sleep plays a major role in heart health. According to the CDC, adults who get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night are more likely to develop heart disease. Sleeping well can help with high blood pressure as it gives your body more time to rest with a lower heart rate.
Heart health is important! No matter our age, making smart and healthy decisions is the right path. If you would like more information regarding senior health or healthy aging, you can check out our Brickmont Assisted Living blog!