February is American Heart Month - first declared in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He dedicated American Heart Month to bringing awareness to cardiovascular health and educating the population on the risks of heart disease. Since 1964, cardiovascular and heart disease has become the number one killer of both men and women.
According to the American Heart Association, a woman dies every 80 seconds by heart disease or stroke – which means it is 1 in 3 of female deaths each year. They also estimate that 85.6 million people in the United States live with high blood pressure that leads to heart attack, stroke, and chest pain.
Seniors of either gender are particularly susceptible to heart disease, especially since they are not always as mobile as adults. So how can they improve their heart health?
It is essential for a multitude of reasons to stay active into old age. Because being overweight affects your overall health, and in this case your heart, you should maintain an ideal weight recommended by your doctor. Look into exercise classes designed specifically for seniors such as SilverSneakers or water aerobics.
If those are not available, grab a friend or family member and get walking! Walking just 30 minutes a day can drastically improve the strain on your heart and give you more stamina.
You cannot outrun an unhealthy diet. Your results from exercising will be minimal if you continue to eat unhealthy, processed and high-fat foods. A heart healthy diet includes things like lean proteins (chicken and fish), green and leafy vegetables and whole grains. Try and limit your intake of sodium and avoid red meat as much as possible.
When in the grocery store, make it a habit of shopping around the perimeter. They keep natural and perishable food in the outer edges of the store. Avoiding the middle of the store means you avoid the processed sweet and salty snacks and frozen TV dinners. It does not mean you cannot have your favorite comfort food ever again (We are southern after all!), but try to limit yourself to a treat for one meal, once a week.
This should be a no-brainer, but you cannot have a healthy heart if you continue smoking. Smokers are some of the people most affected by cardiovascular diseases. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to have heart attacks as non-smokers, and they are much more vulnerable to be fatal.
Do not like those odds? Put down the cigarette!
Because of all the implications that come with diabetes (i.e., poor diet, high weight, etc.), you have an increased chance of suffering from a stroke or heart attack. When your diabetes is being adequately managed, your body is free to work properly and prevent heart disease.
Eating a proper and nutritious diet will most likely go a long way in managing this chronic disease.
Studies link blood clots and heart attacks to persistently elevated levels of stress hormones. Look for constructive ways that work to control your stress levels or anger like gardening, writing, and exercising. Not a fan of physical activities? Try meditating or even reading as a way to calm down.
Follow Oaks Senior Living on Facebook for more tips for seniors to stay heart healthy all year long!